The Detroit Lions open the regular season against the San Francisco 49ers in less than three weeks, and head coach Dan Campbell is already expressing concern that the team could be without two of its more important players, running back D’Andre Swift and defensive tackle Da’Shawn Hand.
Swift has been dealing with a nagging groin injury and has been in and out of practice for the past few weeks. While he’s been trending in the right direction over the past couple of practices, Campbell said on Tuesday that he’s not so sure he’ll be available for the season opener simply because of all the time he’s missed so far.
“Swift concerns me a little bit,” Campbell admitted. “Just with getting his wind back, being able to take a load. How much can he—where he’s at? He’ll be out here today. He’ll be more involved today, but those are the ones (that concern me), to be honest with you.”
With Hand, it seems like the issue is more pressing. It’s been two weeks since the fourth-year defensive tackle left practice after suffering an injury during a one-on-one pass-rushing drill, and he has yet to practice since. Though at the time, Campbell indicated the injury—which he described as a groin injury on Tuesday—was considered “minor,” the Lions head coach updated his status on Tuesday, saying the injury was worse than they believed, and his status for the 49ers seems to very much be in doubt.
“Obviously, it ended up being a little more than we thought it would be, so he’s going to be out here for a little bit,” Campbell said. “They’re kinda hoping that this thing—maybe we get him back before the season starts but we’ll see where it goes.”
Hand has dealt with injuries for most of his career, but this particular setback seems most disheartening. Literally the day before suffering the injury, Hand chatted with media and expressed his excitement about moving past his injury-filled career to finally prove that he can live up to his billing.
“When you work so hard to try to stay healthy and things just don’t go your way, you just gotta get back up,” Hand said two weeks ago. “I’ve been blessed to keep having opportunities to come back. They believe in me. I’ve been doing things the right way, so things have paid off and that’s why I’m still here. I just want my talents to show. I want to stay healthy and I want to show y’all I can really do this. I can be a bonafide player in this league.”
The news is slightly better for tight end T.J. Hockenson, who has been dealing with an injury of his own. The 2020 Pro Bowler practiced on Monday, and there does not appear to be a major concern about his availability come regular season time.
“Hockenson doesn’t worry me as much, because he got a good almost two weeks of training camp,” Campbell said. “So he’s got a good base under him. I think he can get to where we need him to get to relatively quickly.”