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:
- Are you confident the Lions are headed in the right direction? (weekly poll)
- Which injury replacement do you have the most confidence in?
With regards to the first survey question, this is a question that we will ask weekly and track the results throughout the season. After Week 1, the results showed that 99% of fans said they were confident in the direction of the franchise. Now, after a loss to Seattle in Week 2, that number may dip, but by how much is unknown.
The second survey question is a direct result of the rash of injuries the Lions have incurred over the last week.
Heading into the game, the latest injury was to left tackle Taylor Decker who was ruled out and replaced by Matt Nelson—who stepped in at right tackle and Penei Sewell shifted to left—who held his own against the Seahawks. Additionally, edge rusher Josh Paschal and cornerback Kahlil Dorsey were placed on injured reserve, which the Lions countered by signing cornerback Chase Lucas and relying on their edge depth.
Following the game, the Lions suffered four more significant injuries. Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson and edge rusher James Houston have been placed on injured reserve, while expectations are that running back David Montgomery is day-to-day and right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai “could miss some time”, according to coach Dan Campbell.
As replacement options, the Lions have four solid players who figure to be next up, and that list includes a rookie first-round pick and three former starters.
If Montgomery misses time, rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs will likely get the start. When he needs a rest, look for Craig Reynolds and recently signed Zonovan Knight to operate as support. Gibbs is electric and will be a weapon on offense, but when the Lions want to run between the tackles, the supporting cast will likely be called upon.
If Vaitai misses any future games, look for Graham Glasgow to step into the starting role, as he did after Vaitai exited against the Seahawks. Glasgow is a veteran, has a long-standing relationship with several members of the Lions offensive line, and was rotating with Vaitai in training camp, so there should be no lag in chemistry.
With Houston and Paschal on injured reserve, Romeo Okwara jumps up the depth chart. He figures to hold down the EDGE4 spot, at least until Paschal returns from injury. Another veteran and former starter, Okwara is capable of playing both SAM (Houston’s role) as well as EDGE and reducing inside on passing downs (Paschal’s role).
Gardner-Johnson’s absence may be the biggest obstacle to overcome, but they also have a former team captain and starter waiting in the wings in Tracy Walker. Hampered by an Achilles injury that required surgery in 2022, Walker looks to be fully healthy and ready to return to a starting role.
Alright, so which injury replacement do you have the most confidence in? Make sure to vote in the SB Nation Reacts surveys below and sound off in the comments. Note: Results from the Reacts surveys will be posted later this week.