The Detroit Lions were back in Allen Park on Wednesday as they prepare for their upcoming Week 16 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons.
The Lions are still sorting through their COVID-19 outbreak, but they are getting players back from reserve, and are setting plans up in case they are hit with another wave of cases. From an injury standpoint, they are suffering through typical late-season injuries but are also seeing some players return to practice this week, including several starters.
Let’s take a look at the Lions’ official injury report for Wednesday, noting that the new injuries, changes in status, and new reserve/COVID-19 additions are bolded.
- QB Jared Goff - added on December 20 — Mild symptoms and “feeling good”
- OT Matt Nelson - added on December 20
- NB Corey Ballentine - added on December 14
- NB Nickell Robey-Coleman - added on December 14
At Wednesday’s press conference, coach Dan Campbell detailed the ways in which the team was keeping Goff involved in practices in the hopes that he will be cleared and able to play on Sunday. If he is unable, the team will turn to Tim Boyle or David Blough, and while Campbell wouldn’t commit to either, he spent some time explaining how involved Boyle was in practices. Boyle was also made available to the media in the spot typically reserved for the starting quarterback.
Tim Boyle says it's a "night and day" difference from preparing for a game 4 weeks ago (when he just came off IR) versus how he is able to prepare today with a months worth of practices under his belt.— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) December 22, 2021
While Nelson isn’t a starter, he has played a key role in the Lions' offensive game plan each week and the Lions are hoping he can return to help them with their jumbo sets (six offensive linemen).
“To have Nelson in there some in the jumbo role has really helped at a minimum clean up the line of scrimmage and create some push and keep our backs to where they can go downhill, they’re not having to backward to go forward,” Campbell said. “So, I just think it brings an element and there is certainly a lot of things you can do off of it. You don’t just run it. You can play action off of it. And there again, it helps because we’ve seen a ton of Nelson. He was our starting tackle for all of those weeks, and so he is very capable and you know he can do it and he’s been going.”
Of note: The Lions didn’t formally announce it yet, but safety Jalen Elliott was at practice today and has therefore been removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list
Injured reserve updates
- LB Alex Anzalone was added on Monday with a shoulder injury, his season is over
- DL Jashon Cornell (non-football illness) Day 15 of 21 day evaluation period
Anzalone is expected to be replaced by a combination of Josh Woods and rookie Derrick Barnes.
Cornell is entering the third week of his evaluation and the Lions will have to make a decision on his status for the season no later than next Tuesday.
- EDGE Julian Okwara (ankle)
- LB Josh Woods (neck) - was injured in the Cardinals game
- CB Amani Oruwariye (thumb)
Okwara was seen running on the side of practice with trainers but was reportedly “showing signs of a limp” per Detroit News’ Justin Rodgers. Not encouraging news for Okwara’s chances of returning this week, but it’s far too early to rule him out just yet.
Woods was injured early in the Cardinals game and unable to return. As has become customary, when a player is in that situation they get Wednesday off. We will know more about Woods tomorrow.
Oruwariye didn’t miss a snap last Sunday, so this is an unexpected injury to pop up. Could be he is getting a rest day. Could be something concerning. We will learn more tomorrow, as well.
- RB D’Andre Swift (shoulder) - did not practice last week, was inactive
- WR Josh Reynolds (thigh)
- WR Kalif Raymond (shoulder)
- LG Jonah Jackson (back) - did not practice last week, was inactive
- DL Michael Brockers (knee)
- LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (shoulder)
Swift and Jamaal Williams both returned to practice on Wednesday—Williams was removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday—and with the recent signing of Craig Reynolds, the Lions running game could be in for an even bigger boost on Sunday. While Reynolds and Williams are good to go, Campbell said the plan for Swift is to work him in similarly to how they brought back Jalen Reeves-Maybin last week.
“I want to know that he’s not thinking about hurting his shoulder,” Campbell said of Swift. “That’s really the last part of this (recovery process). Is that he has confidence in himself to take a shot and that’s what you’re going to be looking for. And I wouldn’t expect to see that today, but you hope every day it looks—you just see more confidence as he begins to practice.”
Reynolds showed up on the Lions’ injury report last week but was able to play through the thigh injury. This looks like a precautionary limitation.
Raymond’s shoulder is a new injury. If it is a lingering injury from last Sunday, then getting in a limited practice is encouraging. If the injury happened in practice today, then it's slightly more concerning.
Jackson missed practice all last week but the staff held out hope he would be able to play and gave him a questionable designation. Unfortunately, he was not able to play and was scratched in favor of UDFA rookie Tommy Kraemer. Back at practice today, Jackson would deliver another big boost to the Lions' offense.
Brockers has been limited for weeks now during practices but has been able to play each week on Sunday. This seems par for the course.
Reeves-Maybin was being brought along slow last week, but when called upon to increase his role, he stepped up in a big way against the Cardinals. This looks precautionary, as a way to not overwork the linebacker.
No longer listed on the injury report
- RT Penei Sewell (shoulder)
- OT Will Holden (not injury related)
- EDGE Austin Bryant (shoulder)
- LB Derrick Barnes (knee)
- S Tracy Walker (illness) - did not practice last week due to COVID-19 protocols
Walker was removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday with the hopes he would be able to clear protocols on Sunday. He couldn’t and missed the game, but since then has passed his the league’s protocols and has fully returned.
“He was running around up there all fired up, ready to go,” Campbell said of Walker. “It’s good to have him back.”