The Detroit Lions have declared their inactives ahead of their Week 5 matchup with the New England Patriots, and even though they declared five players out on Friday—including three starters—there were still a few starters that remained legitimately questionable to play.
Early Sunday morning, ESPN and NFL Network reported that two of those starters in question, Amon-Ra St. Brown (ankle) and Josh Reynolds (ankle) were likely to play, and those reports proved true, as both players are active.
Additionally, Jonah Jackson (finger) returns to the field for the first time since Week 1 and also appears to be in line to start at left guard. Evan Brown (ankle) also appears good to go at right guard, as does Chris Board, who is one of the league's best special teamers.
The Lions made several roster moves this week. They placed wide receiver Quintez Cephus on injured reserve, while also releasing kickers Dominik Eberle and Austin Seibert, freeing up three spots on the active roster. To fill those vacated spots, the Lions signed wide receivers Tom Kennedy and Maurice Alexander, as well as nickelback AJ Parker. Additionally, they elevated corner Saivion Smith and kicker Michael Badgley—who was signed to the practice squad this week—, bringing the game-day roster up to 55 players.
Because the Lions have eight offensive linemen active for Sunday’s game, they are eligible to expand their game-day roster from 46 to 48 players. Therefore, with 55 players on the active roster and 48 eligible to play, the Lions need to declare seven inactive for today’s matchup.
- RB D’Andre Swift (ankle, shoulder) — Ruled OUT on Friday
- WR DJ Chark (ankle) — Ruled OUT on Friday
- OT Matt Nelson (calf) — Ruled OUT on Friday
- EDGE Charles Harris (groin) — Ruled OUT on Friday
- DL John Cominsky (wrist) — Ruled OUT on Friday
- CB Amani Oruwariye
- S JuJu Hughes
Oruwariye is the big surprise because even though he was previously dealing with a back injury, he has not been listed on the injury report for two weeks now. Him being inactive seems to suggest he is a healthy scratch and has been benched. Look for Will Harris or possible Mike Hughes to bump outside and start opposite Jeff Okudah.
Swift is expected to return after the bye, but this week the Lions will need to once again turn to Jamaal Williams to carry the load. Over the past two games, with Swift banged up or absent, Williams ran the ball 39 times for 195 yards and four touchdowns.
Chark was once again a late-week downgrade after initially appearing to take a step toward playing. Josh Reynolds will likely take over at the WR-X again this week, while Kennedy and Kalif Raymond will fill in at the WR-Y.
Nelson has seen 10-12 snaps a week as the Lions sixth offensive lineman in big sets. The Lions surely won’t move away from that role but it’s not clear who will take over that role. Reserves Dan Skipper and Logan Stenberg are maulers in the run game and seem the most logical choices.
Harris suffered a groin injury late in Thursday’s practice and was unable to recover in time to play. Look for the Lions to use a variety of options to replace him at rush end, including shifting Aidan Hutchinson there when UDFA rookie Demetrius Taylor steps in at big defensive end, as well as a rotation of Julian Okwara and Austin Bryant through the rush spot.
Cominsky was running with trainers this week, which is typically a sign he is nearing a return to the field. Keep an eye on his status following the bye week.
Hughes has gone from replacement starter to inactive in just two weeks as the Lions appear to be making big changes in their secondary. Deshon Elliott and rookie Kerby Joseph are expected to start with Ifeau Melifonwu as their primary backup.
- DL Lawrence Guy (shoulder)
- DE DaMarcus Mitchell (concussion)
- QB Mac Jones
- TE Jonnu Smith
- DB Joshuah Bledsoe
- CB Shaun Wade
- RB Pierre Strong