The Detroit Lions released Week 12 injury designations for their Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Buffalo Bills and will be without five players, including four starters, two on each side of the ball.
Note: The walkthroughs are estimated levels of participation and are based on the best guesses of Lions coaches.
21 day evaluation clock
At the time of this publication, none of the players have been removed from the reserve list, which means that unless something changes in the next few hours, they will enter next week still being evaluated.
- LG Jonah Jackson (concussion)
- RG Evan Brown (ankle)
- EDGE Josh Paschal (knee)
- EDGE Charles Harris (groin)
- CB Jeff Okudah (concussion) — shouldn’t play
Losing both starting guards is very unfortunate, especially considering Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Tommy Kraemer are both on injured reserve, meaning the Lions will be without their top four options at the position. As I wrote in this week’s Honolulu draft, the Lions will be forced to lean “on backups of their guard reserves.” Not good.
Dan Skipper plans to enter one of the vacant spots, as he did last week when Brown exited the game, and has the versatility to play either spot. Which side he lands on will most likely be determined by who starts on the other spot. If the Lions decide to give Logan Stenberg a third strike, Skipper would likely fall to right guard. But if the Lions turn to Kayode Awosika, Skipper will likely start on the left side.
Paschal and Harris will miss their second straight games, which means the Lions will be looking to John Cominsky to start behind closed doors, facing incumbent NFC Defensive Player of the Week Aidan Hutchinson. Austin Bryant will be called for follow-up purposes. After missing three games with a healthy scratch, Bryant struggled in his return to action last week posting a 32.9 overall grade from the PFF.
Okudah’s absence isn’t that clear-cut to replace and the Lions will likely be forced to turn to three players – Jerry Jacobs, Mike Hughes and Amani Oruwariye – to fill the starting roles at the outfield corner.
“I think you’re going to see all three of these guys,” head coach Dan Campbell said Tuesday. “I think there’s a good chance you’ll see all three. All hands on deck this week.
Will Harris took over the nickel duties, but no matter how often they are in nickel sets, Harris will likely never leave the field, moving between the inside and outfield corner. Who else will start and how much they play will likely be determined by how well they are producing on the field, which appears to have been the case recently.
While the workouts are just walkthroughs, Reynolds is estimated to have participated in two limited workouts this week and it looks like he has a legitimate shot at getting back into the lineup come game day.
While Reynolds is heading in the right direction, it’s worth mentioning that it looked like he might come back last week as well, but was ultimately demoted before the game. So he exercises a cautious optimism here.
Also, as we saw with DJ Chark last week, even if he’s able to return to the action, he’ll most likely slowly acclimate back to his role. Last week, Chark only saw 11 snaps, and if Reynolds returns, he could be within a similar range.
Not listed with an injury designation
- RB D’André Swift (ankle, shoulder)
- WR DJ Chark (ankle) — updated
- C Frank Ragnow (foot) – updated
- LB Malcolm Rodriguez (elbow)
For the third week in a row, Swift entered the game without an injury designation. The shots and touches of him have slowly increased, and that seems to be the plan again this week. Expect Jamaal Williams to start, Swift to step in as RB2, and if he struggles, Justin Jackson is available to take on the role.
As hinted in the previous section, Chark’s role expected to grow and go into an estimated full practice, as well as not carrying an injury designation, certainly supports what Campbell indicated on Tuesday.
“I know (Chark) came out of the game feeling pretty good,” Campbell said. “So, we think—certainly, he’s going to be able to carry a bigger load this week, which is good.”
Ragnow has been nursing his foot injury throughout the season and his training schedule has been relatively consistent over the past few weeks. No practice to start the week, followed by a limited day, then full and starting on match day. Ragnow will have his work cut out this week with two new guards on either side, but he has enough talent to make it work.
Rodriguez is still dealing with an elbow injury that required a brace — it’s unclear if he’s still wearing one, as the media wasn’t in attendance at this week’s practice — and he’s seen his snap counts dip a bit. Luckily for the Lions, second-year linebacker Derrick Barnes stepped up for him and played his best pro football in recent memory. He tries to get the Lions to continue to take it easy on their rookie and lean back on Barnes.
Injury designations of bills
The Bills will be without two of their defensive starters in LB Tremaine Edmunds and DE Greg Rousseau, while starting center Mitch Morse is listed as questionable, despite not having practiced all week.