The Detroit Lions have declared their Week 8 injury designations ahead of their matchup with the Miami Dolphins and despite having seven starters on offense injured this week, all are expected to play, including returning D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown.
“Those two guys (Swift and St. Brown) can account for a lot of offense,” coach Dan Campbell said on Friday. “A lot of production in our offense. So, having both of them back is a big jolt. And look, I would say this too, (Josh) Reynolds was out there practicing yesterday which was good. And he’s going to get another day’s work and that’s really the first time in two or three weeks we’ve had him in practice per se. He’s really been walkthrough, and then he’s gone into play. So, I know at this point this is the best he’s felt in a while. So, that helps. Those three players, to have them certainly is going to help more than it hurts I can tell you that.”
Unfortunately, they’re still dealing with the injury bug on defense, where five of the six players ruled out this week reside, including two starters.
- OT Matt Nelson (calf)
- EDGE Charles Harris (groin)
- NB Chase Lucas (ankle)
- CB Mike Hughes (knee)
- S DeShon Elliott (finger)
- S Ifeatu Melifonwu (ankle)
Elliott missing this game will hurt, as the Lions are already down their other starting safety Tracy Walker, who was placed on injured reserve with an Achilles injury. Rookie Kerby Joseph has been really solid in his stay—he is improving every week—but the Lions will be forced to start a deep reserve in this game in order to replace Elliott.
“(Elliott) has not practiced the last two days,” Campbell noted. “We were going to see how he felt today, but right now JuJu (Hughes) is going to be in that spot.”
JuJu Hughes originally got the nod as a replacement for Walker, but Joseph passed him on the depth chart the very next week. With Melifonwu also out, the Lions will rely on recently re-signed C.J. Moore as their reserve safety option.
Charles Harris has now missed three games in a row and looks in serious danger of losing his starting role with the return of Josh Paschal and shifting of Aidan Hutchinson to rush end. Harris is still a vital cog in the Lions pass rushing plan, but his role could be reduced moving forward. Look for Julian Okwara and Austin Bryant to supplement reserve edge snaps.
Nelson is a low-key big loss for the Lions offensive line. While not a starter, he is their most effective sixth-offensive lineman and the team has struggled to find a replacement for that job. Last week Dan Skipper was a disaster in the role, so it’ll be interesting to see if they give someone else a shot.
Hughes and Lucas missing this game adds further stress to the Lions depth in the secondary—especially in the slot—and on special teams. Neither is a defensive starter, but their absence leaves the team with just eight defensive backs available.
- WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (concussion)
- LG Jonah Jackson (neck)
St. Brown has been progressing through the league’s concussion protocol all week and appears ready to play. Reynolds is also expected to play, as Campbell noted above, and the pair have been re-building their chemistry with Jared Goff this week.
“Goff’s got a tremendous amount of trust in Reynolds and certainly, Amon-Ra,” Campbell explained. “And so, it does help (having them at practice) and it just – everything’s a little cleaner, certainly.”
The Lions are expected to have their current starting offensive line available for this Sunday’s game, but they did get a bit of bad news this week, as Campbell projected that starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai (back, injured reserve) was unlikely to return to the playing field this season. On a positive note, Tommy Kraemer (back, injured reserve) is expected back in the next few weeks and he could challenge Evan Brown for the current starting right guard job.
No Injury designation
- RB D’Andre Swift (ankle, shoulder)
- CB Will Harris (hip)
- WR Josh Reynolds (knee)
- TE T.J. Hockenson (knee)
- C Frank Ragnow (foot)
- LT Taylor Decker (neck)
Swift has now completed his first week of full practices since the opening week of the season. The Lions are hoping his explosive nature can bring back some of the explosion it lost over the last few weeks.
“We all know what Swift can bring,” Campbell said on Friday. “You latch on to your guy and give him a crease and he can do the rest.”
Will Harris will return to action after missing last week, but will he regain his starting role, or has it permanently shifted back to Amani Oruwariye? With injuries throughout the secondary, coaches may opt to keep the position-versatile Harris available as a chess piece option, rather than teather him to one spot.
The Lions offensive line is nearing fuller health, as both Ragnow and Decker were full participants in Friday’s practice and enter the weekend without an injury designation.
Dolphins injury designations
Here’s a look at the Dolphins’ injury designations: