At his Monday afternoon press conference, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell addressed the media and gave a few updates on a few of the team’s injured players.
First, the bad news. After suffering a shoulder injury five snaps into the Lions Week 15 game, captain Alex Anzalone was forced from the game and was unable to return. Campbell noted that he didn’t believe the injury would have a long-term impact on Anzalone’s NFL future, but with only three games remaining in the season, he would be shut down for the rest of the year.
“Yeah, look, that’s a tough deal,” Campbell said. “I don’t think we feel like it’s a major injury, and yet, it’s going to knock him out for the year. He got the shoulder, but we don’t believe this is a long-term issue. We just know with three games left, that’ll probably knock him out for the season.”
Coach Campbell announces Alex Anzalone is out for the remainder of the season. pic.twitter.com/1XvJRzjYO7— Detroit Lions (@Lions) December 20, 2021
Campbell noted that missing Anzalone, their “quarterback on defense,” will be impactful, but he was encouraged by how Jalen Reeves Maybin stepped up in his absence against the Cardinals on Sunday.
“We didn’t want it to be overbearing, but Reeves has to go play 72 plays, man, and he’s the green dot and he played all out,” Campbell said. “It wasn’t perfect, but I’ll tell you what, the guy made a ton of plays for us and that’s a credit to him. “
Anzalone signed a one-year contract with the Lions this offseason, which will expire in March when the free agency period opens. With Anzalone being held in such high regard by this coaching staff, it’s very possible they will be working towards him returning to Detroit in 2022, but they will surely want to get a look at his shoulder before making a deal.
Anzalone has a history of shoulder issues dating back to his college days at Florida. Previous shoulder injuries cost him his 2017 and 2019 seasons, so the Lions will want verification that he indeed does not have a long-term injury as Campbell alluded to.
On a more optimistic note, Campbell mentioned that the Lions had no plans to shut down D’Andre Swift at this time and mentioned that he was feeling better.
“I still think we’re taking this week-to-week, day-to-day,” Campbell said of Swift. “I know as of this morning, he’s better than he felt last week. He feels better than he was Saturday when we worked with him. So our plan is to work him back into practice this week and see how he feels.”
With Swift nearing a return to the lineup and Jamaal Williams expected to come off the reserve/COVID list soon, the Lions will face some interesting decisions at the running back position for the final three games of the season. Craig Reynolds has played extremely well in his two opportunities, racking up 195 yards on just 37 carries (5.3 YPC), and the Lions reportedly rewarded his performance by being signed to the 53-man roster. But what will his role be if Swift and William return?
“That’ll be a difficult decision, but it’s a good decision,” Campbell said. “That’s one of those tough things you’ve got to decide. Do you carry three backs? Do you carry four backs? Who’s up? Who’s down? We’ll play it by ear. It’s a good problem to have.”
Campbell did clear one thing up, though. If Reynolds makes it to the gameday roster, he’s going to get the rock.
“If Craig goes to the game, Craig’s getting some carries. That’s what I would say. So, yeah, he’s warranted that.”