The Detroit Lions defense just took another big hit due to injury. On Wednesday, the team announced that starting defensive tackle Danny Shelton and starting cornerback Desmond Trufant have been place on injured reserve, putting them on the shelf for at least three of the remaining five games of the season.
Only Romeo Okwara has played more defensive line snaps for the Lions in 2020 than Danny Shelton. As a veteran presence, the big defensive tackle played a big part in Detroit improving their running defense out of the bye week.
Shelton joins rookies Jashon Cornell, Julian Okwara and veteran Trey Flowers as defensive linemen currently on IR. The good news is that the Lions have already promoted Kevin Strong to the 53-man roster just a day after adding him to the practice squad. Also, expect to see more of sixth-round rookie John Penisini, who has impressed in his first season at the NFL level. Fellow defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand has missed the past two games with a groin injury, but it sounds like he may return to practice this week.
As for Trufant, his absence leaves the Lions in a critical state at cornerback. The veteran defensive back left Thursday’s game with yet another hamstring injury, just after missing five games with a similar injury earlier in the season. The Lions handed Trufant a two-year deal worth $21 million, and it’s fair to say he hasn’t lived up to those terms yet.
And with rookie Jeff Okudah’s status also dealing with an injury—interim head coach Darrell Bevell said he would miss Wednesday’s practice—Detroit is left with a severely shorthanded roster featuring Amani Oruwariye, Justin Coleman and Mike Ford at cornerback. Even Ford is still in concussion protocol, but it appears he’s practicing this week. The Lions did return cornerback Darryl Roberts to practice on Wednesday, but he remains on injured reserve for now, eligible to come off at any time.
To fill the two roster spots, the Lions have also activated rookie tight end Hunter Bryant from injured reserve in addition to the activation of Strong. Bryant had a very good camp and has been talked of highly from the coaching staff, so there is a good chance we see him on Sunday against the Chicago Bears.