The Detroit Lions were back on the practice field on Thursday, working through their game plan and trying to figure out who will be playing quarterback for them this Sunday (Week 11) against the Cleveland Browns.
Because of the importance of the position, let’s start with the quarterbacks.
- QB Jared Goff (oblique) - No practice on Wednesday or Thursday
- QB Tim Boyle (thumb on right hand) — Still on injured reserve, but in the evaluation stage
The Lions repeated their approach from Wednesday on Thursday: Goff missed practice and Boyle took first-team reps.
“Even though he couldn’t go out and practice physically (previously), he’s been in it mentally,” offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said of Boyle on Thursday. “He’s a pretty sharp kid. He threw well yesterday, and if he has to go, then we have full confidence in him that he gets the job done.”
The Lions are still hoping Goff’s oblique injury “calms down” and allows him to throw with precision, but if he is unable, the plan appears to be to activate Boyle from injured reserve and start him against the Browns. If it comes to that, Lynn believes Boyle’s skill set would allow the Lions to run the same game plan they would typically use with Goff.
“It definitely doesn’t close any of the playbook,” Lynn said. “He can handle it all. He’s just been out for a while. You saw some rust yesterday, but don’t expect to see those today and if we have to go with him, I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
The Lions have one more practice this week on Friday to help them in their decision. And if they do decide to activate Boyle, those decisions typically come on Saturday.
Let’s take a closer look at the official injury report from Thursday to get a better picture of the rest of the Lions’ injured players. (Changes in status are noted in bold)
No practice on Thursday
- QB Jared Goff (oblique)
- RB Jermar Jefferson (knee/ankle)
- LT Taylor Decker (elbow) — Not on Wednesday’s injury report
- EDGE Trey Flowers (knee)
- CB Mark Gilbert (illness) — Not on Wednesday’s injury report
Decker was a full participant on Wednesday and not on the injury report in any capacity. His addition on Thursday was a new injury (elbow), so his absence is mildly concerning. If he can’t go on Friday, his status for the game could be in jeopardy.
Gilbert missed practice with an illness, so it’s possible he will return to practice tomorrow. It’s a situation worth monitoring with the lack of depth at corner.
Jefferson continues to miss practice after exiting last weekend’s game with an ankle injury. His status is very much in doubt for the Lions' upcoming game, but with Jamaal Williams back at practice, the Lions won't be in any rush to push the talented rookie before he is ready.
Flowers left last Sunday’s game after re-aggravating his knee, but his return to action appeared to be promising. Resting on Wednesday was expected, but missing an additional practice on Thursday is a bit worrisome. He still has another day to get on the field, and as a veteran, he doesn’t need many practice reps, so there’s no need to raise any red flags just yet.
Limited at practice
- RB D’Andre Swift (shoulder)
- RB Jamaal Williams (thigh)
- OL Matt Nelson (ankle) — upgraded from no practice on Wednesday
- SAF Tracy Walker (concussion)
Nelson being upgraded is a good sign he might be available on Sunday. If Decker can’t play, Nelson would be the first man up to replace him. But his value goes beyond that, as we saw against the Steelers, Nelson can be a road grader as a sixth offensive lineman.
Swift being limited this week was expected, but Campbell didn’t sound overly concerned about his status on Wednesday: “He’s good. We’ll limit him a little bit, but he’s good.”
Williams missed the previous two games but has now gotten in back-to-back practices and is headed in the right direction. He spoke with the media today, which is typically a good sign he will be available moving forward, which will be important with Jefferson likely to miss this game.
“I’m just happy to be back with my teammates,” Williams said on Thursday. “Just to come back and get what I can for the team. Do my part.”
Walker got in a second limited practice on Thursday, so it’s unclear if he has made the next step in the league’s concussion protocols. If he has, the next on the checklist is clearance from an independent doctor and then he could be cleared and ready to play on Sunday.
- EDGE Austin Bryant (shoulder) - upgraded from limited
- CB Jerry Jacobs (groin)
Bryant progressed to a full practice on Thursday, indicating he’ll likely be good to go this week. With Flowers potentially out, Sunday could be an opportunity for Bryant to get a significant amount of playing time against the Browns.
Jacobs getting in two full practices is a great indicator that he should be ready to continue to start at corner this weekend.
Returned to practice, Still on IR
- QB Tim Boyle (thumb on right hand) — Day 9 of the 21-day evaluation period
- CB Ifeatu Melifonwu (thigh) — Day 9 of the 21-day evaluation period
- NB/KR Corey Balentine (hamstring) — Day 9 of the 21-day evaluation period
Nothing new to update in this section at this time.