The Detroit Lions have released their injury designations ahead of their Week 15 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals, and once again, they will be without a handful of key players due to injuries and COVID-19 protocols.
Let’s take a look at the Lions’ official injury report for Friday, which was a walkthrough, so participation levels are estimates from the coaching staff.
- RB Jamaal Williams
- LB Tavante Beckett
- CB Bobby Price
- CB Ifeatu Melifonwu
- CB Mark Gilbert
- NB Corey Ballentine - added on Tuesday
- NB Robey-Coleman - added on Monday
- S Tracy Walker
- S Jalen Elliott — added on Thursday
Despite adjustments to the league's COVID-19 protocols attempting to make it easier for players to return to play quicker, on Friday, coach Dan Campbell said he believes it is “highly unlikely” any of them will be cleared for this week’s game.
“Maybe we get lucky,” Campbell said, “but it doesn’t—I don’t think it bodes well for us right now.”
Injured reserve updates
- TE T.J. Hockenson (thumb) was officially placed on injured reserve
- DL Jashon Cornell (non-football illness) Day 10 of 21 day evaluation period
- NB AJ Parker (ankle) Day 3 of 21 day evaluation period
Campbell confirmed the report that Hockenson did indeed have hand surgery on Thursday, saying “everything went well.” Campbell commented that the injury occurred during the Vikings game, and after getting evaluated by two separate doctors, the team encouraged Hockenson to weigh his options—as they do with every injured player—and he elected to have surgery.
Dan Campbell confirms a successful surgery for T.J. Hockenson. pic.twitter.com/S1GsNOdYH2— Detroit Lions (@Lions) December 17, 2021
Parker still appears on track to return to action this week, and with seven defensive backs out due to COVID-19 protocols, they’ll need him to step up in a big way.
No indicators on Cornell’s status at this stage, and he still has another week of evaluation time remaining, if needed.
- RB D’Andre Swift (shoulder)
- EDGE Julian Okwara (ankle)
Swift and Williams (likely) will miss this week again, and the team will need to lean on their young backs to pick up the slack. Last week, Craig Reynolds stole the show, and he is expected to be elevated again. But expect the Lions to still include Godwin Igwebuike and Jermar Jefferson—who is now healthy—to take on bigger roles.
On Friday, running back coach/assistant head coach Duce Staley mentioned that Jefferson wasn’t able to absorb the “full game plan” last week due to his illness and ankle injury and that factored into his availability. He would go on to note that “this week is different” and that “there’s a good chance” he’s more involved this week.
Okwara’s absence will hurt as the Lions’ pass rush has been lackluster of late, but getting a healthy Austin Bryant back this week will help soften the loss.
- WR Josh Reynolds (thigh)
- LG Jonah Jackson (back)
- OT Will Holden (not injury related)
- DL Michael Brockers (knee)
- LB Alex Anzalone (ankle)
- LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (shoulder)
Reynolds was added to the injury report on Thursday, which typically spells bad news for his game-day status, but he got in an estimated limited practice during Friday’s walkthrough, which is a good sign coaches think he would’ve been able to participate. He may end up being a game-time decision.
Jackson didn’t practice all week, yet coaches aren’t ready to rule him out just yet. If he can’t play, he will be replaced by Tommy Kraemer at left guard, who has been taking first-team reps there all week. “We know he’ll be ready to go in there and know what to do,” Campbell said of Kraemer. “He’ll battle if needed.”
Holden also missed practice all week for non-injury-related reasons and it’s not clear if he will be available this weekend. If both Jackson and Holden can’t play, that would take the Lions below the eight offensive linemen gameday target and a player from the practice squad would likely be promoted.
Brockers has been limited in practices and assigned a questionable label for weeks now, but come Sunday, he has been able to start and play his normal allotment of snaps.
Anzalone missed practice on Wednesday but got in two limited practices after that. He’s trending in the right direction to start.
Reeves-Maybin has been limited all week in practices and required a non-contact red jersey. His status feels a little more vulnerable.
How much playing time the Lions can get out of Anzalone and Reeves-Maybin will directly impact how much Josh Woods and Derrick Barnes see the field. Chances are, even if the starters return, all four will still likely play.
Not listed with an injury designation
- RT Penei Sewell (shoulder)
- EDGE Austin Bryant (shoulder)
- LB Derrick Barnes (knee)
Sewell, Bryant, and Barnes all put together back-to-back full practices on Thursday and Friday, and with no injury designation assigned, they will all return to their regular roles. Sewell will continue his domination at right tackle, Bryant will start on the EDGE opposite Charles Harris, and Barnes could be in line to fill a starting role.