The Detroit Lions continue to receive bad news with regard to injuries along the offensive line. After being a limited participant during Wednesday’s practice due to a groin injury, starting center Frank Ragnow missed practice altogether on Thursday.
When offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was asked about the severity of Ragnow’s injury Thursday morning, he differed the question to coach Dan Campbell—who will meet with the media on Friday—but he did give a glimmer of positive news.
“I’ll let coach (Campbell) answer that,” Johnson said. “I know he was at walkthrough just now. So, we’ll leave that for the head guy.”
Attending walkthroughs is a positive sign, but it is also not a solid indicator of Ragnow’s availability. Already down their starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai—who was placed on injured reserve on Monday—the Lions could enter Sunday’s game potentially down two starting interior offensive linemen, against a vaunted Philadelphia Eagles interior defensive line.
Now, the Lions do have capable reserves in-house, and they have been exploring options on how to best use them. Tommy Kraemer is a logical successor at right guard, but he is also dealing with a back injury and missed both Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practices. Logan Stenberg is healthy and would likely be next in line, in a plug-and-play situation, but the Lions have gone as far as to evaluate Penei Sewell at right guard—and shifting Matt Nelson to starting right tackle.
Things are a bit clearer at center. If Ragnow is unable to play, Evan Brown filled in admirably last season and seems like a natural choice to turn to.
Thursday afternoon, the Lions made a roster move to help navigate Ragnow’s injury, signing center Ross Pierschbacher to the practice squad and releasing offensive tackle Darrin Paulo. Pierschbacher is a former fifth-round pick who has spent time with Washington, the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Jets. He has never started an NFL game, and just has a single offensive snap at the professional level. He was a three-year starter at Alabama at right guard before switching to center his senior year. He was waived as part of the Jets’ final cuts last week.