The Detroit Lions are going to need to have all hands on deck this Sunday as they take on the rising Minnesota Vikings. Their NFC North foes have won three of their last four and seem to be trending in the right direction despite last week’s loss to the Saints.
The good news for Detroit is that they may be entering this week as healthy as ever, and it starts with defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. While he is far from guaranteed to play, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Lions are “optimistic” about his chances this week:
Lions are optimistic that DE Ziggy Ansah, who has not played since the first quarter of week 1 due to a shoulder injury, will play Sunday vs. Vikings, per source. Just want to test him pregame first.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 4, 2018
Earlier in the week, head coach Matt Patricia hinted that Ansah was making progress with his shoulder injury.
“He’s right in the mix right now with all of it. It’s been good for him to be out there every single day,” Patricia said.
But he also warned that he’s still working through it.
“We’re making progress, but it’s still day-by-day.”
There was also concern for star cornerback Darius Slay, who popped up on the injury report Friday with a new knee injury. According to Schefter, there isn’t much to worry about there.
Lions’ CB Darius Slay, listed as questionable with a knee injury, is expected to play vs. Vikings, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 4, 2018
The news isn’t as optimistic for the Vikings, who are also dealing with a few key injuries. First and foremost, receiver Stefon Diggs is dealing with a rib injury and it’s looking more and more likely he’ll sit out this week. Not only did the Vikings promote an additional receiver from their practice squad on Saturday, but Schefter says Diggs is not expected to play.
That’s a huge break for the Lions, who have struggled in coverage all year. At this point, it would make sense for Slay to follow Adam Thielen, who has been an absolute terror to opposing defenses throughout the first eight weeks of the season. Thielen leads the league in receptions and receiving yards, and if he eclipses 100 yards receiving against the Lions, he’ll break Calvin Johnson’s record of eight straight games with 100+ yards.
Lastly, it looks like Minnesota will finally get their 2017 second-round pick Dalvin Cook back in the lineup. Schefter is reporting the Vikings running back will be on a “pitch count” as he returns from a hamstring injury that has held him out since Week 3.