Hit hard by an outbreak of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 illnesses in Allen Park this week, the Lions significantly altered their practices, as players and coaches worked hard to slow the spread. In the end, the Lions placed seven players on the reserve/COVID-19 list (six from the active roster and one from the practice squad) and elevated six players to replace them. Fortunately, all the remaining players on the active roster had tested negative on Sunday morning.
In addition to their newly formed 53-man roster, the Lions also elevated one more player from their practice squad, bringing their game-day roster up to 54-players. Because the Lions have eight offensive linemen active for Sunday’s game, they are eligible to expand their game-day roster from 46 to 48 players. Therefore, with 54 players available and 48 eligible to play, the Lions needed to declare six inactive for today’s matchup.
Here are those six players:
- RB D’Andre Swift (shoulder) — ruled OUT on Friday
- EDGE Julian Okwara (ankle) — ruled OUT on Friday
- LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (shoulder) — ruled OUT on Friday
- TE T.J. Hockenson (hand) - Doubtful heading into this game
- QB David Blough
- WR Trinity Benson
Hockenson was seen with his hand wrapped at practices this week, but when asked if the injury would keep him out of Sunday’s matchup, he replied, “Nothing else has, so I don’t know if a hand will.”
Well, it turns out the hand was the injury that finally got him. The Lions will turn to UDFA Brock Wright to be their primary tight end, Superback Jason Cabinda—the teams Walter Payton Man of the year nominee for 2021—and recently elevated Shane Zylstra, who can be an asset in the passing game.
With Swift ruled out and Jamaal Williams placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Lions will turn to rookie running back Jermar Jefferson and Godwin Igwebuike to carry the load, with a few sprinkles of Craig Reynolds, who was elevated for this game.
Okwara being ruled out limits the Lions’ EDGE depth quite a bit. Expect to see more of Jesse Lemonier and Rashod Berry than most expected at the start of the season. Starters Charles Harris (who was dealing with the flu) and Austin Bryant (shoulder) are ACTIVE.
In addition to Harris, Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike missed each practice this week with a non-covid related illness are also ACTIVE. As is Michael Brockers (shoulder/illness), which is great news for the depth along the Lions' defensive front.
Reeves-Maybin will miss his second game in a row, and like last game, look for Derrick Barnes and Josh Woods to split his role in this game. Curtis Bolton, who was elevated for this game, should help pick up the slack on special teams.
Blough, despite being one of the few players to avoid the flu, is inactive as the team’s third quarterback.
Benson, also flu-free this week, is still working his way back into the good graces of the coaching staff. He is also a healthy scratch as the Lions use their precious game day roster spots to fill other holes.
- QB Brett Rypien
- CB Michael Ojemudia
- CB Essang Bassey
- S Jamar Johnson
- DL McTelvin Agim