As is tradition during Monday press conferences, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell faced a lot of questions about injuries and upcoming statuses for the next game. This week was no different, as Campbell offered updates on Frank Ragnow, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, James Houston, and Bruce Irvin.
Let’s break them all down individually.
The Lions All-Pro center missed Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears with a knee injury suffered against the New Orleans Saints the week prior. Ragnow, who is also dealing with lingering toe and back injuries, did not practice at all last week, but Detroit opted to keep him off injured reserve—a sign they expect him back relatively soon.
So will that be this week against the Denver Broncos? Campbell would not commit one way or the other.
“Yet to be determined,” Campbell said. “He is improving, he’s improving. But there again, I won’t know for a little bit here.”
If Ragnow can’t go, it’ll be Graham Glasgow back at center, and either Kayode Awosika or rookie Colby Sorsdal at right guard. Against the Bears, the Lions went with Awosika.
Last week, Houston was at the facility and told reporters he’s expecting to not only return soon, but he believes he’ll play in a game or two before the Lions’ playoff run. Houston suffered a fractured ankle in Week 2 and has been on injured reserve since.
Campbell slowed the talk of Houston’s return pretty significantly, saying he won’t return to practice this week.
“No, no. I think it’ll be a while before that,” Campbell said. “Look, I do think there’s a chance (of him returning), but I think we’re looking late December, January possibly.”
The Lions do have a contest with the Dallas Cowboys on December 30 and their regular season finale against the Vikings is on January 7.
Gardner-Johnson suffered a torn pectoral muscle and has been out since Week 2. The Lions defensive back has been continually teasing the date December 20 via social media, though he hasn’t outright said that has to do with his return date.
Campbell said Gardner-Johnson’s timeline is right along the same lines as Houston’s but did offer up a lot more optimism about his rehab than the last time he talked about it.
“He’s kicked it into overdrive,” Campbell said. “And he is—he’s healed quick and is healing quick. And most of it’s going to be about: is his body ready for that? Will he be able to do it without re-injuring and is it stable, strong enough? And I know this, he’s taken off, but we’ll see. Probably the same timeline if there is a chance, it’d be late December, January probably.”
Many were very surprised to see that the Lions did not elevate Bruce Irvin from the practice squad for Sunday’s game against the Bears after he made an impact against the Saints in the previous week. On Monday, Campbell confirmed that decision was made due to an ankle injury Irvin suffered in the game.
“Yes,” Campbell said. “He’s improving too.”
At this point, it’s unclear if Irvin will be ready to go against the Broncos, but because he remains on the practice squad, he will not be listed on any injury reports this week.