On Sunday, Detroit Lions reserve tackle Matt Nelson suffered an ankle injury, was carted off, and did not return to the game. Coach Dan Campbell offered an update on Monday evening on Nelson, and unfortunately the news is not good. Nelson’s ankle injury will require surgery and he’s headed for injured reserve.
“We’ll put Nelson down (to IR),” Campbell said. “He’s going to require surgery. So, hate that for him.”
It’s a tough blow to the Lions offensive line, which has already suffered several injuries. In their initial Week 4 injury report, four of the team’s five starting offensive linemen were listed: Jonah Jackson (thigh), Frank Ragnow (toe, rest), Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee), Taylor Decker (ankle). The good news is that everyone other than Vaitai was listed as a limited participant in Monday’s estimated injury report (the Lions hadn’t done their walkthroughs by the time the report was due).
On Sunday against the Falcons, the Lions were down to their fourth-string offensive tackle. With Decker already declared out, Nelson started at right tackle. After his ankle injury, veteran Dan Skipper—signed to the practice squad earlier in the week—played for 16 snaps only to suffer a hamstring injury of his own.
The Lions then turned to fifth-round rookie Colby Sorsdal to finish the game. While Sorsdal played tackle in college, the Lions had been grooming him as guard depth. Still, Campbell came away impressed with how the rookie performed against the Falcons.
“Skip went in there and banged away and then got an injury. Sorsdal went in and honestly, he did a solid job,” Campbell said. “He went in and filled in admirably, and he’ll get better from those reps that he took. That’s about the best way I can say it.”
The most simple solution to Detroit’s offensive line problems right now would be for them to get Decker back. The Lions left tackle suffered an ankle injury in the opener and has missed the past two games. But towards the end of last week, he was at practice working with a trainer, and he took another step on Monday by being upgraded to a limited participant.
Campbell wouldn’t say if Decker is playing this week, but he certainly hinted at the possibility.
“There’ll be some guys that it’ll be hard to get them to the game, probably, and there’ll be some other guys that’ll have a chance here that have played and just been on the injury report for the past week or two or three,” Campbell said.
If he can’t go, Campbell said that Sorsdal could be an option.
“Yeah, certainly. We got him in there at guard and tackle. We’ve been working (both) a little bit. Of course, that’s his first real NFL game playing right tackle, but yeah, he’s certainly an option.”