As the Detroit Lions prepare for their 2021 finale against the Green Bay Packers, they could be without both starting offensive tackles. Both Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell have been placed on reserve/COVID-19, along with edge defender Austin Bryant.
That leaves the Lions currently without three of their starting five offensive linemen. Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow is still on IR with his hurt toe, but right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who missed last week’s game, has been removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list and should play.
There is enough time for all three players added to the COVID list to return to the roster before Sunday’s game. Under the league’s new COVID-19 protocols, players—regardless of vaccination status—may return to the roster after five days of quarantining, as long as they don’t have a fever, their symptoms are on the decline, and they’re cleared by a medical professional.
But Campbell warned that the Lions can’t proceed with the assumption those players will be back. Wide receiver Josh Reynolds was placed on reserve/COVID-19 last Monday, and the Lions felt good about their chances of getting him back by game day. But when the time to activate him on Saturday came, Reynolds was not feeling well enough to clear protocol.
“I think you’ve got to prepare like you’re not going to have them,” Campbell said. “We thought we would have Josh—and I was being hopeful. I was being optimistic with it and we didn’t get Josh Reynolds. So lesson learned there a little bit.”
That means the Lions must prepare this week to potentially have Matt Nelson, who came off the COVID list last week, and Will Holden as their starting offensive tackles. Both players have had to step in earlier in this season, with Nelson starting 12 games at right tackle this year and Holden starting one (but as a sixth offensive lineman). Detroit could also tap Dan Skipper from the practice squad.
There is a bunch of good news, though. The Lions removed four starters from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, making them eligible to play in the finale vs. Green Bay. Those players are WR Josh Reynolds, RG Halapoulivaati Vaitai, TE Brock Wright and DT Michael Brockers.
Here’s a look at the current players on the Lions’ reserve/COVID-19 list:
- WR Kalif Raymond — added on December 30
- LT Taylor Decker — added January 3
- RT Penei Sewell — added January 3
- EDGE Austin Bryant — added January 3
- WR Geronimo Allison (practice squad) — added December 29
- RB Rodney Smith (practice squad) — Added January 3
- Defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant — added December 31