Two Detroit Lions key players on offense will likely be absent for the team’s second preseason game. Prior to Thursday’s practice, coach Dan Campbell announced that both running back D’Andre Swift and tight end T.J. Hockenson are not expected to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday.
Swift, who has been sidelined with a lingering groin injury for most of the past couple of weeks, appears he’s starting to ramp up participation levels and is expected get some team reps on Thursday.
“Swift’s going to do a little bit more today,” Campbell said. “We’ll work him into practice, he’ll be with Duce (Staley), get some individual, and then we’ll get him some reps in practice to see where he’s at that point. But I don’t see him playing this weekend.”
Hockenson suffered a lower-body injury during practice last week and he hasn’t practiced since. The Lions will continue to take it slow with him. Campbell said last week that the injury was minor, and on Thursday he noted that the plan is to ramp him up starting next week.
“Hockenson, he’ll get a little bit but not team (drills),” Campbell said. “He could get a little individual, he may be with (interim lead trainer) Tom (Colt) a little more off to the side. Our thought with him is we’ll ramp him up next week is kinda the thought. Because, really, this is the last big day we’ll have until we play Pittsburgh.”
Campbell also noted that veteran Michael Brockers isn’t expected to play on Saturday night, but “he is improving.”
Those may not be the only three Lions players that miss out on Detroit’s second preseason game. Campbell also noted that they may hold out some starters for the rest of the preseason as a precaution for the regular season.
“I still see most of our starters playing, but I will tell you this—this has been in my head for probably about a week—I’m starting to think about now maybe sitting a few of these guys, a select few veterans is kinda what I'm thinking right now,” Campbell said.
Among those veterans could be quarterback Jared Goff, according to Campbell. That would potentially mean that last week’s two drives against the Buffalo Bills could be the only time we see him during the preseason. While Campbell admits the Lions' offense needs to improve from that point, he believes the team can achieve that through situational football in the next three weeks at practice.
“Those are where you’re really getting the ones ready to go, and you’re putting a pretty good load on them rep wise,” Campbell said. “But they're also getting situational football and it’s competitive and for them, when you start putting a score up there or situations, it gets a little more intense. They can't help themselves, and that’s good.”