Allen Park — As the Detroit Lions prepare for the team’s third and final preseason game, focus slowly begins to shift to next month’s season-opener against the San Francisco 49ers. That’s still more than two weeks away, but Lions coach Dan Campbell acknowledged concern about the health of two key players, running back D’Andre Swift and defensive tackle Da’Shawn Hand.
Swift, the dynamic second-year back who racked up 878 yards and 10 touchdowns from scrimmage as a rookie, has been dealing with a nagging groin injury most of training camp. That’s limited his practice participation and sidelined him the first two preseason games.
At this point, Campbell said the team is uncertain about what he’ll be able to offer Week 1.
“Swift concerns me a little bit with getting his wind and being able to take load. How much can he with where he’s at?” Campbell said. “… Look, I’ll state the obvious here. He’s got ability. There’s things that we feel we can do with him, offensively, that really benefit us. But we don’t know if he’s going to be there. We don’t know if he’ll be there, we don’t know even if he is how much we’ll be able to get out of him. Until we can get him out to practice on a consistent basis, we won’t know that.”
As for Hand, he exited practice two weeks ago and has yet to return to action. Campbell explained the the oft-injured defensive tackle is dealing with a groin injury that ended up being more severe than originally anticipated.
“He’s going to be out here for a little bit,” Campbell said. “There again, we’re kind of hoping that this thing … maybe we get him back before the season starts, but we’ll see where it goes.”
Hand has finished each of his first three seasons on injured reserve. In total, he’s missed 22 of Detroit’s past 35 games with knee, elbow, groin and ankle issues.
On the other side of the coin, Campbell is happy with the progress tight end T.J. Hockenson has been making and is confident he’ll be good to go once he’s medically cleared.
According to Campbell, Hockenson is working through an AC joint injury. That injury occurred when cornerback Jeff Okudah landed on the third-year tight end after he went to the ground trying to make a catch on a deep ball.
“Hockenson doesn’t worry me as much because he really got in almost two weeks of training camp,” Campbell said. “He’s got a good base under him and I think he can get where we need him to get to relatively quickly. Especially once he comes off this AC (injury) and we get him back next week.”
Hockenson is coming off a Pro Bowl season where he caught 67 passes for 723 yards and six touchdowns. Given Detroit’s offseason roster turnover, particularly at wide receiver, he’s expected to have an even bigger role in the passing game this season.
Hockenson returned to practice on Monday, wearing a no-contact red jersey. He looked sharp running one-on-one drills against the team’s defensive backs, catching five of six passes.