While Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell kicked off his post-bye week press conference with the depressing development that Levi Onwuzurike’s season is over following back surgery, it wasn’t all bad news on the injury front. While Campbell was guarded with his optimism, he did say that the team was looking fresher and healthier on Monday after the week off.
“Injury-wise, we’re a little bit better,” Campbell said. “I don’t know how far along we’ll be until Wednesday, but I know everyone feels a little bit better. How much? We’ll see.”
Later, he provided much more optimistic-sounding information when it came to several Lions players, starting with defensive lineman John Cominsky, who led the team with 10 pressures in two games before suffering a wrist injury that required surgery. Cominsky hasn’t practiced since the injury, but Campbell certainly made it sound like the veteran defensive lineman could be back for this week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.
“I know Cominsky, it looks pretty promising for him,” Campbell said.
The news was similarly good for Josh Paschal and Jerry Jacobs, two players who have started the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. The Lions returned both to practice two weeks ago, and they seem close to a return.
“Paschal had another good week last week,” Campbell said. “I know we only had a couple of practices, but he’s put two weeks (in), back-to-back, has been pretty good. So we’ll see where he’s at.”
Paschal, who had sports hernia surgery this past spring, is looking to make his NFL debut after the Lions took him with their second-round pick in April.
Jacobs, who suffered a torn ACL last December, has been itching to get back. One of the bigger questions once he’s physically able to return is where he’ll fit in. While there was talk about fitting Jacobs into the nickel position, Campbell made it pretty clear he’ll start as part of the competition at outside cornerback.
“The first thing you’d be thinking is outside is where he’d be competing at,” Campbell said. “The good news about Jerry is, man, when he’s physically ready, you know you can take him into the game because he’s going to help on special teams immediately. Now, you’ve got him in the game. Now it’s, okay, you can sprinkle him in outside or maybe we do feel good at nickel. He brings value to the roster, at a minimum, just to have on gameday because he does so many things.”
Jacobs’ return is timely because the Lions are still figuring things out at the cornerback position. Last game against the Patriots, the Lions benched starter Amani Oruwariye, and his replacement—Will Harris—quickly suffered a groin injury and did not return. That said, Campbell made it clear that Oruwariye would still be in contention for the starting job.
“I told him he’s not out of the boat, so he’s going to get a chance to compete this week, and see where he can help us,” Campbell said.
The Lions coach also provided a somewhat optimistic update on defensive end Romeo Okwara, who suffered an Achilles injury in Week 4 of the 2021 season and remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Campbell confirmed that the plan is to still get Okwara on the field in 2022.
“Yeah, that’s the plan,” Campbell said. “He is progressing. He’s doing a good job. There again, the Achilles is just happening at a different rate, but he’s doing a good job. You guys know ‘Rome,’ he puts in the work, man. It’s coming. When he’s ready, he’ll be out there.”
Lastly, Campbell provided a brief update on two other players who have yet to see the field: Lions first-round pick Jameson Williams (torn ACL) and fullback Jason Cabinda (ankle):
“I don’t see any of those guys (returning this week),” Campbell said. “They’re all on track. I think Cabinda is coming in a hurry, but I don’t know if I necessarily see him (returning) this week.”