21-day evaluation clock
- WR Quintez Cephus (foot, IR): Day 16 (latest update)
Cephus’ evaluation clock expires on Tuesday of Week 17, so the Lions are nearing a point of having to make a decision on his status. If they believe he is ready to go for this weekend’s game, expect an activation on Friday. If he is not ready, they’ll decide by Tuesday if he will return to the roster or if he needs to shift to season-ending injured reserve.
- FB Jason Cabinda (illness)
- G Kayode Awosika (ankle)
- S DeShon Elliott (shoulder)
As expected, based on coach Dan Campbell’s statements from earlier in the week, Elliott has been ruled out and will not play against the Panthers. This is a big blow for the Lions as they lose one of their veteran leaders, not only in the secondary, but of the entire defense. Elliott had been solid both in coverage and against the run—and replacing him will be a patchwork operation.
“(Ifeatu Melifonwu) is going to get some plays. He’s going to play a little bit. That’s for sure,” Campbell said on Thursday. “As will C.J. (Moore) and of course Kerby (Joseph) will be there on the other side.”
When Elliott left the game against the Jets, it was Moore who replaced him and played admirably. But as we have seen in the past, just because a player was an injury replacement one week, doesn't mean that player will continue to be the replacement the following week. The best example of this came in Week 3 when JuJu Hughes replaced Tracy Walker in Minnesota, and then Joseph was named the starter in Week 4. Welcome to Campbell’s meritocracy.
Cabinda fell victim to the recent string of illnesses making their way through the team as of late. He was not able to practice at all this week, then factoring in the shortened schedule (Saturday game) and early travel adjustments (team leaving early to get ahead of the storm), and Cabinda wasn’t cleared in time.
Awosika has now missed his third game in a row after injuring his ankle on Thanksgiving.
- C Frank Ragnow (foot)
- LB Derrick Barnes (knee)
Ragnow—who was just named to the Pro Bowl—has been fighting through a foot injury all season and the Lions have done their best to manage his reps early in the week. After getting Tuesday and Wednesday off, Ragnow returned to the field on Thursday, and despite the questionable designation, is expected to start against the Panthers.
“I think the later we go (into the season), we’re just trying to be smart with (Ragnow’s foot injury),” Campbell said on Friday. “He’ll be ready to go (against the Panthers). Frank will be good.”
Barnes missed the last two games with his knee injury, but he was able to return to the practice field this week for limited practices. He’s not out of the woods yet, but this week was a big step toward him returning to game action. If he can’t play on Saturday, expect Malcolm Rodriguez and Chris Board’s workload to increase.
No injury designation
- LT Taylor Decker (elbow)
- RG Evan Brown (ankle)
- OT Matt Nelson (not injury related)
- DT Michael Brockers (illness)
Decker and Brown were limited on Wednesday but returned to full on Thursday and are on track to start on Saturday. Nelson, who missed practice on Wednesday with a non-injury-related issue, also got in a full practice on Thursday and is ready to go. Brockers appears to be over his illness and practiced in full all week.
Panthers’ injury designations: All clear
While the Panthers have five players listed (below) with injuries, all of them practiced in full by the end of the week and none of them carry an injury designation into the game.
- LB Joel Iyiegbuniwe (hamstring)
- CB Jaycee Horn (shoulder)
- TE Ian Thomas (thigh)
- S Myles Hartsfield (ankle)
- CB C.J. Henderson (ankle)