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Injury updates: Julian Okwara returns to Detroit Lions practice, 6 players sit

The Detroit Lions got a key piece of their defense back to practice on Thursday, but a few notable players did not participate.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Lions took part in their first post-cuts practice on Thursday morning, and because we are now in “regular season mode,” the media is only present during warmups and individual drills to essentially take attendance.

The most notable change was that edge defender Julian Okwara returned to practice. Okwara had not practiced since August 4, but now he appears on pace to potentially play in the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles in less than two weeks.

Last week, coach Dan Campbell said of all the injured players, Okwara was the closest to being available for Week 1.

“We’re hoping for Philly that he’ll be back,” Campbell said. “He’s probably got the best shot out of all of them to be ready for Philly.”

However, there was a fairly big list of players who did not participate in practice. I’ll separate those between players who were in attendance but not practicing, and players who were not seen at practice.

Not at practice

Onwuzurike continues to deal with a back/hip injury that has held him out since the first day of padded training camp practice. The last we heard from Campbell, his status for Week 1 seems doubtful.

“He’s trending the right way but it’s at a snail’s pace is the best way to say it,” Campbell said. “He’s doing everything we’re asking him to do, it is getting better, but I don’t know. I would say this, if you’re asking me right now, you’re twisting my arm, I’m saying he’s not available for Philly, that’s me, but we’ll see.”

At this point, the reason for Vaitai’s absence is unknown.

At practice, but not practicing

  • TE T.J. Hockenson (per Birkett)
  • EDGE Austin Bryant
  • CB Amani Oruwariye
  • S Ifeatu Melifonwu

Hockenson has been getting some veteran days off rest this camp, and he also took a notable shot to his side during one of the more intense practices last week. But because he played 28 snaps on Sunday against the Steelers, there is little reason for concern there.

Austin Bryant played 48 snaps in the preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, and he was jogging at a pretty good pace on the sidelines. Again, the concern level should be low there.

It’s unclear what Amani Oruwariye is dealing with. He played 20 snaps on Sunday. He spent the early portion of practice alongside the defensive backs, going through mental reps, but did not appear to favor any part of his body.

Finally, Melifonwu hasn’t practiced since August 8, but there were some encouraging signs of progress for him, too. Alongside Bryant, he was working with trainers and moving around a little, but not quite as much as Bryant. Campbell described his injury as “soft tissue,” but we don’t have any more information beyond that.

The Lions will not have to submit an official injury report until next Wednesday. But remember that five players have already been placed on PUP or NFI reserve lists, meaning they will miss at least four regular season games: WR Jameson Williams, FB Jason Cabinda, CB Jerry Jacobs, EDGE Romeo Okwara, and EDGE Josh Paschal.

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