Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell announced on Wednesday that left tackle Taylor Decker and defensive tackle Kevin Strong will participate in practice this week. Both players are currently on injured reserve but are eligible to come back and play now that three weeks have passed.
While both players will return to the field on Wednesday, they will both likely remain on IR for the time being and won’t count against the Lions' 53-man active roster. Their return to practice starts a new three-week window in which the Lions will have to either activate them or keep them on IR for the remainder of the season.
Obviously, getting Decker back this week would be huge for the Lions, as their pass protection has struggled in the past few weeks with rookie Penei Sewell allowing four sacks over the past two games. Decker suffered a finger injury in practice before Week 1 and it was serious enough to require surgery. In recent weeks, he’s shown his support by being at practice and going through warmups before the game, but he’s been sporting a brace.
On Tuesday, Campbell told 97.1 The Ticket that there’s no guarantee Decker will play this week, and for now, they’re operating with the assumption that he won’t quite be ready.
“We’re just going to take it day-by-day,” Campbell said. “Until we know he’s like, ‘I know I’m ready. I can go. I can do it,’ we’re assuming that he’s out,” Campbell said. “Now we’re going to try to get him back, but we’re going to function as if he’s not here until we know that he feels good about it and we do, as well.”
Strong played 24 defensive snaps in the season opener but suffered a concussion in that game. He appeared on route to returning to play but suffered a thigh injury, prompting the move to injured reserve. His status for this week is unclear, but his absence has opened the door for rookie Levi Onwuzurike to earn more playing time.