While the Lions are dealing with some typical late-season bumps and bruises, overall they are getting healthier and are expected to return at least two players from injured reserve this week—with a third on the way soon after. Those pending transactions have prompted some roster shuffling, including releasing Isaiah Buggs from the 53-man roster and Bruce Irvin from the practice squad.
Let’s take a look at where things stand as Detroit enters the final week of the regular season.
NOTE: Any changes from last week’s injury report will be bolded.
Injured reserve, Non-Football injury list
- RB Mohamed Ibrahim (hip): Practice squad IR — eligible to return at any time
- OT Matt Nelson (ankle): IR — eligible to return at any time
- OG Halapoulivaati Vaitai (back): IR — eligible to return at any time
- DT Alim McNeill (knee): IR — evaluation clock started
- EDGE James Houston (fibula): IR — evaluation clock started
- DB C.J. Gardner-Johnson (pectoral): IR — evaluation clock started
- LS Scott Daly (knee): IR — eligible to return at any time
Alim McNeill returned to practice on Wednesday and coach Dan Campbell has already stated that he has hopes for him to play against the Vikings this Sunday. McNeill was never expected to remain out longer than his stint on injured reserve required and things seem to be on track so far.
In addition to McNeill potentially returning, Campbell also noted that he is anticipating C.J. Gardner-Johnson to return to the field this weekend. Gardner-Johnson has been in the injury evaluation window for two weeks' worth of practices and could use Week 18 as a tune-up for the playoffs.
Unfortunately, the news is not as optimistic for James Houston—who began practicing late last week—as Campbell said he is not expecting him to return to the field for the Vikings game. It’s possible Houston could be ready for the playoffs, but a lot depends on how quickly he re-acclimates.
- WR Jameson Williams (ankle) — injured vs. Cowboys in Week 17
- LT Taylor Decker (groin) — Downgraded after playing every offensive snap in Week 17
- TE Brock Wright (groin) — Did not play/practice in Week 16 or 17
As Campbell alluded to in his afternoon press conference, the ankle injury Jameson Williams suffered against the Cowboys kept him from practicing on Wednesday. It’s possible Williams could recover in time to play this weekend, but it’s equally as likely that the Lions opt to keep him out and allow him to heal up in time for the playoffs.
“There’s some guys here, if we feel like the best thing for them would be to sit because of injury—we’re thinking about that. We’re taking that into consideration,” Campbell explained.
Taylor Decker has been nursing a groin injury for a few weeks now, but he has been able to play through it on game days. Last week, Decker took some practices off early in the week, then returned later in the week for a full practice. While it’s possible Decker falls into the group that could be rested, it’s also very likely he will work his way back onto the field and play on Sunday.
Brock Wright has not been able to practice in his last seven opportunities as he was once again unable to go on Wednesday. While it would be ideal to get Wright back on the practice field ahead of the playoffs, the Lions will likely take it slow with his return. The fact that he was not initially placed on injured reserve is a good sign that they expect him to return at some point.
Estimated limited practice
- TE Sam LaPorta (ankle) — injured vs. Cowboys in Week 17
- DT Alm McNeill (knee) — evaluation days remaining: 20
- EDGE James Houston (ankle) — evaluation days remaining: 15
Sam LaPorta, who played every offensive snap in Week 17, was seen limping at the end of the Cowboys game. While the Lions appear to be taking things slowly with him, Campbell doesn’t seem overly concerned and was even shocked when he was asked about LaPorta dealing with an injury.
“Why do you keep asking about Sam? Is there something I don’t know about him? Is there? Yeah, we’re good,” Campbell said.
McNeill was spotted wearing a brace on his right knee at practice today, but as noted above, he appears on track to return to play this weekend.
The Lions are starting the clock on Alim McNeill’s practice window.— Colton Pouncy (@colton_pouncy) January 3, 2024
Dan Campbell said there’s a shot he plays this week vs. the Vikings. pic.twitter.com/y3o4awrv4Z
Houston continues to work his way through the evaluation process and completed his second limited practice since entering the evaluation window.
- C Frank Ragnow (toe/back/knee)
- DB C.J. Gardner-Johnson (pectoral) — evaluation days remaining: 7
- CB Cameron Sutton (toe) — upgraded from no practice last week
Ragnow continues to deal with several injuries, but he has managed to deal with them by taking scheduled rest days during the practice week. He practiced on Wednesday, so don’t be discouraged if he ends up taking Thursday or Friday off as part of his maintenance routine.
An upgrade to a full practice from Gardner-Johnson lines up with the timeline established by Campbell.
Sutton suffered a toe injury late last week, and while he was considered “a true game-time decision,” he was able to play every defensive snap against the Cowboys. A full practice is a great sign he is on track to play in the regular season finale.
No longer on the injury report
- RT Penei Sewell (shoulder)
- LB Derrick Barnes (shoulder)
- CB Jerry Jacobs (hamstring)
Vikings injury report
- WR Jalen Nailor (concussion)
- RT Brian O’Neill (ankle)
- DL Jaquelin Roy (ankle)
- CB Byron Murphy Jr (knee)
- TE Nick Muse (knee)
- OG Ed Ingram (shoulder)
- CB Mekhi Blackmon (shoulder)
- S Harrison Smith (shoulder)
- S Theo Jackson (toe)