The Detroit Lions have released their Week 12 injury designations for their Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Buffalo Bills and they will be without five players, including four starters, two on each side of the ball.
Note: Walk-through practices are estimated levels of participation and are based on Lions coaches’ best guesses.
21-day evaluation clock
- WR Jameson Williams (ACL, NFI): Day 3 (latest update)
- EDGE Romeo Okwara (Achilles, PUP): Day 8 (latest update)
At the time of this publishing, neither player was removed from their reserve list, meaning unless something changes in the next few hours, they will enter next week still in the evaluation stage.
- LG Jonah Jackson (concussion)
- RG Evan Brown (ankle)
- EDGE Josh Paschal (knee)
- EDGE Charles Harris (groin)
- CB Jeff Okudah (concussion) — not expected to play
Losing both starting guards is very unfortunate, especially considering that Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Tommy Kraemer are both on injured reserve, meaning the Lions will be without their top four options at the position. As I wrote in this week’s Honolulu blueprint, the Lions will be forced to lean “on the backups to their reserves at guard.” Not great.
Dan Skipper figures to step into one of the open spots—as he did last week when Brown exited the game—and he has the versatility to play at either spot. Which side he lands on will most likely be determined by who starts at the other spot. If the Lions decide to give Logan Stenberg a third shot, Skipper would probably line up at right guard. But if the Lions turn to Kayode Awosika, Skipper will probably start on the left side.
Paschal and Harris will miss their second game in a row, meaning the Lions will turn to John Cominsky to start at closed end, opposite reigning NFC defensive player of the week Aidan Hutchinson. Austin Bryant will be called upon for depth purposes. After missing three games as a healthy scratch, Bryant struggled in his return to action last week registering a 32.9 overall grade from PFF.
Okudah’s absence is not as clean to replace and the Lions will likely be forced to turn to three players—Jerry Jacobs, Mike Hughes, and Amani Oruwariye—to fill the starting outside corner roles.
“I think you’re going to see all three of these guys,” coach Dan Campbell said on Tuesday. “I think there’s a good chance you’ll see all three of them. All hands on deck this week.”
Will Harris has taken over nickel duties, but regardless of how often they are in nickel sets, Harris will likely never leave the field, shifting between inside and outside corner. Who else starts and how much they play will likely be determined by how they are producing on the field, which has seemed to be the case recently.
- WR Josh Reynolds (back)
While practices are walkthroughs only, Reynolds was estimated to have gotten in two limited practices this week, and looks like he has a legitimate chance of returning to the lineup on game day.
While Reynolds is trending in the right direction, it’s worth remembering that he looked like he might return last week as well, but was eventually downgraded to out ahead of the game. So exercise some cautious optimism here.
Additionally, as we saw with DJ Chark last week, even if he is able to return to game action, he will most likely be slowly reacclimated into his role. Last week, Chark only saw 11 snaps, and if Reynolds returns, he could fall into a similar range.
Not listed with an injury designation
- RB D’Andre Swift (ankle, shoulder)
- WR DJ Chark (ankle) — upgraded
- C Frank Ragnow (foot) — upgraded
- LB Malcolm Rodriguez (elbow)
For the third week in a row, Swift has entered the game without an injury designation. His snaps and touches have slowly increased, and that appears to be the plan again this week. Expect Jamaal Williams to get the start, Swift to enter the game as RB2, and if he struggles, Justin Jackson is available to take over the role.
As mentioned in the previous section, Chark’s role is expected to grow, and getting in an estimated full practice, as well as not carrying an injury designation certainly supports what Campbell pointed to on Tuesday.
“I know (Chark) came out of the game feeling pretty good,” Campbell said. “So, we think—certainly, he’s going to be able to take a bigger load this week which is good.”
Ragnow has been nursing his foot injury all season and his practice schedule has been relatively consistent over the last several weeks. No practice to start the week, followed by a limited, then a full, and starting on game day. Ragnow will have his work cut out for him this week with two new guards on either side of him but he’s talented enough to make it work.
Rodriguez is still dealing with an elbow injury that has required a brace—it’s unclear if he is still wearing one, as the media was not in attendance at this week’s practices—and he has seen his snap counts scaled back a bit. Fortunately for the Lions, second-year linebacker Derrick Barnes has stepped up in his place and has been playing his best football as a professional of late. Look for the Lions to continue to take it slow with their rookie and lean on Barnes again.
Bills injury designations
The Bills will be without two of their defensive starters in LB Tremaine Edmunds and DE Greg Rousseau, while the starting center Mitch Morse is listed as questionable, despite not practicing all week.