It’s one thing to have minor injury reports after a game, but the Lions boasted a lengthy list of wounds. Already missing Taylor Decker for the game and Emmanuel Moseley not fit for duty yet, the Lions injury report next week will likely be extensive. Of the serious injuries, running back David Montgomery and linebacker James Houston seemingly have it worst. Though the severity is still to be determined, it seems likely that both players will miss at least a few weeks. Guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai could be added to the list of serious injuries, but his status remains up in the air as of Sunday night per head coach Dan Campbell’s comments. Not to be forgotten is rookie receiver Antoine Green, who secured his first NFL catch but left the game late with a concussion.
That is the list of players who did not return to the game, but the injuries went beyond that. There was no injury as worrying as Amon-Ra St. Brown’s, who left the game in the second half but returned for the final drive. St. Brown is a key cog in the Lions offense (he led the day with 102 receiving yards) and missing him for any significant period of time could be catastrophic. Thankfully, the injury was diagnosed as cramps, which should hopefully be cleared up before the next game.
The Lions also briefly lost both starting safeties, Kerby Joseph (hip) and C.J. Gardner-Johnson (upper body), early but both returned over the course of the game; Joseph went to the locker room for evaluation, while Gardner-Johnson merely got work on the sideline for a drive. Another key defensive player, Aidan Hutchinson, was also injured for a moment late in the game, but jogged off and returned soon after.
Detroit’s roster depth is already being tested, with defensive lineman Josh Paschal and defensive back and special teamer Khalil Dorsey having been placed on the Injured Reserve earlier in the week. Which of the injuries can the Lions least afford to have?
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Which Lions injury is the most concerning?
My answer: David Montgomery.
As mentioned, losing St. Brown would have been a serious blow to the offense, but cramps are rarely a long-term issue—defensive back Brian Branch suffered a similar issue in Week 1 and returned quickly. With that, we can hopefully breathe a sigh of relief for the star receiver.
The same cannot be said for Montgomery. Some fans might be upset at his extensive usage over rookie Jahmyr Gibbs, but Montgomery was among the best Lions players over the first two weeks. He was running hard between the tackles, displaying a great balance of power and agility (though his offensive line deserves a nod as well).
With Montgomery out, it might look like Gibbs’ time to shine, but that is not the full truth. A bell-cow back is not Gibbs’ role, and forcing him into a 20-plus carry situation is not ideal or realistic for what the Lions envision. What is more realistic is the role the Lions had with Montgomery and Gibbs, but that may prove difficult to replicate. When Montgomery left with his injury, it was Craig Reynolds getting the ball in his stead. Whether due to more confidence in Reynolds as a pass protector or as a between-the-tackles runner is hard to say, but it is clear that the Lions want to mix their rushing attack.
Yet aside from a 26-carry, 112-yard game in 2021, Reynolds has never been the same caliber of runner that Montgomery is, and it showed on Sunday: his three carries went for just seven yards. An interesting option is practice squad running back Zonovan Knight, whose nickname of “Bam” illustrates his physicality. He may be a better replacement option for Montgomery than Reynolds. The Lions could even bring back Jermar Jefferson, but it is unclear when he would be eligible after being waived with an injury settlement.
Regardless of their decision, the Lions will have a hard time replacing what Montgomery brought over the course of two impressive games. Here’s hoping the injury proves minor.
Which injured Lions player are you most concerned about? Let us know in the comments.