Tight end Sam LaPorta is the latest Detroit Lions player who has suffered a midweek injury in the lead-up to game day. He suffered a calf strain, and despite going through walkthroughs on Friday, his status for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is very much in question.
Just five weeks into the NFL season, LaPorta is now the fourth Lions player to suffer an injury after the team’s initial practice for the week. In Week 2, Josh Paschal suffered a knee injury that landed him on injured reserve. Last week, both running back Jahmyr Gibbs and tight end James Mitchell suffered hamstring injuries that they’ve yet to return from.
But despite this trend, Lions coach Dan Campbell says they aren’t planning on adjusting their practice regimen, and—more or less—this is just football.
“It’s just the way it is,” Campbell said. “I mean, we backed off this week. So, if anything, man, we need to go harder. Maybe that’s part of it.”
The week of practice can be a delicate balance for NFL coaches. On one hand, you want to prepare the players physically for the battle that is game day. But on the other hand, you obviously want as healthy of a squad as possible for kickoff.
“You do the best you can with it, and inevitably, it’s still a tough game,” Campbell said. “Things pop up, you manage them the best you can, and then the next guy has got to be ready to go.”
To the Lions’ credit, despite the numerous injuries across the roster, the depth pieces have stepped up in a big way. Graham Glasgow came off the bench and has been PFF’s second-highest-graded guard in football. Craig Reynolds stepped in for Gibbs and Zonovan Knight and produced 52 yards and a touchdown on seven carries vs. the Panthers. Will Harris had a pass breakup and fumble recovery filling in for Brian Branch last week. Kalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds stepped up big in Amon-Ra St. Brown’s absence, as well.
But with eight players missing practice on Thursday—15% of their active roster—that depth can only hold up for so long. Let’s hope for a speedy recovery for some of the injured players, and in the meantime, Detroit’s reserves continue to play strong and stay healthy.