Midway through Wednesday’s practice, Detroit Lions All Pro center Frank Ragnow felt a pop—a sensation you never want to feel as a football player. It was his groin, and it had him concerned about Sunday.
Ragnow has spent the last 11 months trying to get ready for Week 1 after missing 13 games last year with a serious foot injury. So when he encountered this setback just days before the Lions’ season debut against the Philadelphia Eagles, he was understandably frustrated.
“Wednesday I was pretty down, not gonna lie, after last year’s deal,” Ragnow said. “I was pretty upset.”
But as the week has progressed, Ragnow’s condition steadily improved. He was relieved after getting optimistic results from an MRI. He felt better the next day, even though the Lions held him out of practice Thursday, and he returned to practice Friday in a limited fashion, and even said he was “cautiously optimistic” about his chances to play this week.
“It wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected initially, so that was good,” Ragnow said. “Just going to take it day by day.”
Ragnow—officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game—is a tough guy. He’s battled through some serious injuries before, including a broken throat. It’s going to be hard to keep him off the field due to a mentality he developed from something his former quarterback Matthew Stafford had said.
“I saw some quote that was like, ‘It’s Sunday, I’m the quarterback for the Detroit Lions, and I’m going to do everything I can to be out there,’” Ragnow recalled. “That really impacted me. That’s how I want to approach it. I want to be out there.”
At the same time, Ragnow knows the season is long. Groin injuries can linger, and it may not be the right call to play if there’s a serious concern about aggravating the injury. He understands that medical staff will have the final call and he respects that process.
“We’re going to be smart,” Ragnow said. “It’s a long season, right? But I’m very confident in all the guys. Whatever five we decide to put out there, we got some good dudes and the coaches have prepared us. So I’m optimistic.”
If Ragnow can’t go, Evan Brown will likely step up in his place. Brown replaced Ragnow for all 13 games last season and played at a high level, earning the trust of his coaching staff.
“Evan banked a lot of reps for us last year and did a heck of a job for us,” Campbell said. “So, shoot, I’ve got a lot of confidence in him too.”