The Detroit Lions are hoping they’re in the final stages of their current flu outbreak, but it appears they aren’t out of the water with a COVID-19 outbreak as well. Center Evan Brown was the first to be placed on reserve/COVID-19 on Monday. A couple days later, safety Bobby Price was added.
On Friday, the Lions announced two more players had been placed on reserve/COVID-19 and they’re important ones: running back Jamaal Williams and safety Tracy Walker.
Williams’ absence is especially harmful for Detroit, considering they are very shorthanded at running back. Starter D’Andre Swift has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos, and rookie running back Jermar Jefferson is returning from the flu—although he was listed as a full participant in Friday’s practice and was not given an injury designation.
But with just Jefferson and converted safety Godwin Igwebuike available for Sunday, don’t be surprised if the Lions activate Craig Reynolds from the practice squad. You may remember Reynolds from an impressive preseason performance just 24 hours after the Lions acquired him. Reynolds rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown on just six carries against the Bills in his first preseason game with Detroit.
As for Walker, he had been one of the better defenders in the Lions secondary all year. With him now out for Sunday, the Lions are in a bit of a bind. Safety Will Harris had been playing nickel duty with starting nickelback AJ Parker currently on injured reserve. The Lions will either have to move Harris back to safety and use someone like rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu at nickel, or keep Harris at nickel and bump a reserve safety like C.J. Moore or Jalen Elliott to start alongside Dean Marlowe.
Walker and Williams will not be eligible to play, because even if they’re vaccinated, there is not enough time for them to post back-to-back negative COVID tests by the time the team travels to Denver.
It’s a lot of roster shuffling for the Lions to do at the last second, and unfortunately for Detroit, they haven’t had many opportunities to practice this week. The Lions cancelled Wednesday’s practice in an effort to stop the flu spread, and just about the entire offensive and defensive lines were sent home on Thursday to help, as well.
Oh, and the Lions also declared three players OUT for Sunday—Julian Okwara, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Swift—one DOUBTFUL—T.J. Hockenson—and 12(!!) questionable. You can read more on the Lions’ full injury report here.
It’s a good thing the Lions already got that win.