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Survey: Which player do the Lions need to return from IR the most?

Checking in with Detroit Lions fans for our latest SB Nation Reacts survey about their Week 17 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in Detroit Lions fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate in the weekly emailed surveys.


In this week’s SB Nation Reacts survey, we are asking fans two questions:

  1. Are you confident the Lions are headed in the right direction? (weekly poll)
  2. Which player do the Lions need to return from IR the most?

With regards to the first survey question, this is a question that we will ask weekly and track the results throughout the season. Here are the results we have seen so far:

The last month has been a bit of a rollercoaster for Lions fans, but with two games still remaining in the season, your 2023 Detroit Lions did what no other Lions team has done in three decades: they clinched the NFC North title.

Additionally, they will host a playoff game at Ford Field for the first time in the stadium's history, will finish no worse than the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs, and have a shot at earning the No. 1 seed.

Concerning the second survey question—Which player do the Lions need to return from IR the most?—the Lions have four potential options to choose from:

  • S C.J. Gardner-Johnson — in the injury evaluation stage
  • FB Jason Cabinda — in the injury evaluation stage
  • DT Alim McNeill — eligible to return in Week 18
  • EDGE James Houston — is expected to start the injury evaluation stage soon

Gardner-Johnson and Cabinda seem the closest to returning, McNeill isn’t expected to be in the evaluation process long, and Houston is just about ready to start his window as well. But this question is less about who will return and instead focuses on which player the Lions need the most.

Is Gardner-Johnson’s Pro Bowl-level talent and insane leadership/swagger what the Lions' defense needs to take a positive step? Will the addition of Cabinda elevate the Lions' elite running game to another level? Will McNeill’s return force teams to account for him and spend less time on Aidan Hutchinson, while opening things up for the blitz more? Can Houston fill the void of a pure pass rusher that has been absent opposite Hutchinson all season?

Be sure to share your thoughts about your preference of which player the Lions need to return from injured reserve, and vote in the SB Nation Reacts surveys below. Results from the Reacts surveys will be posted later this week and make sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.