With several players working through an illness, the Detroit Lions held a walkthrough on Wednesday, separating the offense and the defense in an attempt to slow the spread. With the majority of impacted players being along the offensive and defensive lines, the Lions continued to adjust their practice format on Thursday.
During the open portions of practice available to the media on Thursday, the Lions practiced without most of their linemen, pitting their offensive skill players up against the linebackers and secondary players on defense. To make matters worse, there were several skill players that were expected to have been able to practice but were unable to due to injury.
But before we get into the injuries...
Because most of the linemen missed practice for precautionary reasons and not due to injury or illness, there is a slightly uncommon designation on this week’s report: NIR, which stands for non-injury-related absence, or a coach’s decision.
Simply put, if a player’s status is listed as NIR, it means the player did not practice but for all intents and purposes they are physically healthy. If a player has an injury designation and a NIR label, it means the player did not practice, but if they did, their injury would have landed them on one of the other three status categories (did not practice, limited, or full participant). So if a player is listed with an “illness” they are going through symptoms. If they are listed as “illness/NIR” that indicates a player was dealing with symptoms but could have practiced, but coaches decided to hold them out.
For simplicity's sake, we’ve separated players who have a “NIR” designation from those that are only listed with an “illness,” noting that the new statuses are bolded.
- LT Taylor Decker
- RT Penei Sewell (illness, shoulder)
- LG Jonah Jackson (illness)
- OL Matt Nelson (ankle)
- OL Will Holden
- OG Tommy Kraemer
Of note: Third-string center Ryan McCollum is not listed here as he was practicing. Getting a rhythm with the quarterbacks will be paramount if the team needs to rely on him on Sunday, as Evan Brown remains on the reserve/COVID list.
- DL Michael Brockers (knee/illness)
- NT John Penisini (illness)
- DL Nick Williams (illness)
- EDGE Charles Harris
- EDGE Jesse Lemonier
- EDGE Rashod Berry
Illness related absence
- RB Jermar Jefferson
- NT Alim McNeill
- DL Levi Onwuzurike
- RG Halapoulivaati Vaitai
It appears three new players have started experiencing symptoms, which is not a great sign of this flu being contained.
- TE T.J. Hockenson (hand) - Had his hand/thumb heavily wrapped
- RB D’Andre Swift (shoulder)
- LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (shoulder)
- EDGE Julian Okwara (ankle)
- EDGE Austin Bryant (shoulder) — Downgraded from limited on Wednesday
Hockenson was seen at practice with his hand/thumb heavily wrapped, which on the surface, seems pretty alarming, but there he did have some positive comments for the media after practice.
When asked if the injury would keep him out of Sunday’s matchup, Hockenson replied, “Nothing else has, so I don’t know if a hand will.” He would go on to confirm that nothing was broken, and he subtly suggested that he was planning on playing, saying that he was looking forward to playing against his college teammate, tight end Noah Fant: “It’ll be good to actually play against him.”
Swift missed practice, which isn’t overly surprising considering he could potentially have a multi-week injury, but he’ll need to get on the field on Friday if he wants to have a chance to play on Sunday.
The Lions are currently hurting on the edge with both Julian Okwara and Austin Bryant dealing with injuries, not illnesses. With Romeo Okwara out, the Lions could be looking at just Charles Harris, Rashod Berry, and Jessie Lemonier as their only healthy edge defenders—and that’s if they all manage to avoid the flu.
- QB Jared Goff (illness) - upgraded from no practice on Wednesday
Goff was back at practice, which was not a surprise given how optimistic he was about his health on Wednesday when meeting with the media virtually.
“I would’ve been fine today,” Goff said. “I could’ve been totally fine to be at the facility today. It was out of an abundance of caution. We’ve got a handful of these going around and just wanted to take one more day.”