Late Monday night, Detroit Lions fans were treated to some good news. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press is reporting that Theo Riddick should be ready for the beginning of the training camp after missing earlier offseason practices due to surgery on both of his wrists.
Riddick was just one of many Lions who saw their 2016 season cut short due to injury. Fellow running back Ameer Abdullah only played six quarters before his season ended. Travis Swanson had a lingering concussion that forced him to miss the final month of the season. The Lions’ nickelback position fell apart after Quandre Diggs was placed on injured reserve. Ezekiel Ansah never really seemed fully healthy after suffering an ankle sprain in Week 2.
In other words, by the end of the season, the Lions roster had been decimated by injuries.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
Who is the most important Detroit Lions player returning from injury?
My answer: I have to go with the obvious answer in Ameer Abdullah. Expectations are extremely high for Abdullah, despite coming off a very serious injury. The Lions have made it pretty clear through their actions that Abdullah will be their No. 1 running back in 2017 without much competition in the backfield. His role will undoubtedly be huge, and if he can turn what he did in those six quarters last year into a full season’s worth of production, the Lions offense will finally have a balanced attack.
But since that’s a boring answer, let me give you another. Having Travis Swanson back should be equally huge for this offensive line. With so many questions surrounding Taylor Decker’s replacement at left tackle, Detroit needs stability elsewhere along the line, and Swanson provided exactly that in 2016. Swanson back in the lineup not only improves the team’s play at center, but it also allows for solid competition between Graham Glasgow, Laken Tomlinson and Joe Dahl at left guard. That kind of competition could be needed on both sides of the line, as T.J. Lang’s status, as he continues to recover from hip surgery, is still unknown.