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Lions Week 15 injury report: Frank Ragnow returns, Taylor Decker added

Checking in on the Detroit Lions' initial Week 15 injury report, as they prepare to take on the Denver Broncos.

Green Bay Packers vs Detroit Lions Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Detroit Lions (9-4) are hosting the Denver Broncos (7-6) in Week 15 in a special Saturday night primetime game. Because this matchup was flexed, the teams will have an altered practice schedule this week.

Instead of opening the practice week on Wednesday, everything will be pushed up a day, meaning their initial practice is on Tuesday, followed by practices on Wednesday and Thursday.

Because Tuesday is typically the player's day off, the Lions only held a walkthrough on Tuesday, so all of the participation levels in this report are estimates from coaches—basically, their best guesses if there was a full practice.

NOTE: Any changes from last week’s injury report will be bolded.

Injured reserve, Non-Football injury list

Vaitai is eligible to return to the Lions roster at any time, now that he has spent four weeks on injured reserve. While he is technically eligible, his back injury is similar to the one that cost him all of 2022 and led to him confronting the idea of retirement. Needless to say, general expectations are low that he can get healthy enough to return anytime soon.

On Monday, coach Dan Campbell gave updates on Houston and Gardner-Johnson, suggesting a late December or early January return to action was a possibility.

Campbell on Houston:

“I do think there’s a chance (of him returning), but I think we’re looking late December, January possibly.”

Campbell on Gardner-Johnson:

“He’s kicked it into overdrive. And 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.”

Estimated no practice on Tuesday

  • LT Taylor Decker (back) — NEW INJURY

Decker played in every snap against the Bears but struggled to protect Jared Goff. He was credited with allowing all four sacks on Sunday.

That said, if Decker can’t go this week, expect right tackle Penei Sewell to slide over to the left side with either Colby Sorsdal or Dan Skipper filling in on the right side. Decker missed two games earlier in the season, and in those games, Matt Nelson (currently on IR) and Skipper replaced him before both suffered injuries and Sorsdal stepped in.

Estimated limited practice

  • C Frank Ragnow (toe/back/knee) — Upgraded from no practice last week
  • DT Benito Jones (neck) — NEW INJURY

Ragnow being upgraded to a limited practice this week is huge after a full week of no practice in the lead-up to the Bears game. On Monday, Campbell wouldn’t commit to Ragnow’s availability.

“Yet to be determined,” Campbell said of Ragnow. “He is improving, he’s improving. But there again, I won’t know for a little bit here.”

With the Lions already shorthanded at defensive tackle after placing Alim McNeill on IR last week, Jones’ injury is something to monitor this week. With a limited estimated practice to kick off the week, there’s no cause for concern quite yet, but we’ll see if his participation rate changes throughout the week.

Full practice

  • QB Hendon Hooker (ACL) evaluation clock: 7 days remaining

Hooker continues to work his way through the evaluation process and the Lions are going to have to make a decision on what to do with him in the near future. Coaches have previously said the plan is to add him to the active roster, but with injuries and needs elsewhere on the roster, it’s not clear if things have changed with that plan.

No longer on the injury report

  • LB Alex Anzalone (hand)
  • LB Malcolm Rodriguez (ankle)

Broncos injury report

Here’s a look at the Broncos' initial injury report (starters bolded):

No practice:

  • LB Nik Bonitto (knee)
  • S P.J. Locke (neck)

Limited:

  • LB Jonathan Cooper (ankle)

Full practice:

  • RB Samaje Perine (knee)
  • G Quinn Meinerz (illness)

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