Detroit Lions RB D’Andre Swift’s groin injury ‘no concern;’ Packers minus top pass rusher

Detroit Free Press

D’Andre Swift was limited in practice Thursday by the same groin injury that kept him out all preseason, but Detroit Lions running backs coach Duce Staley said the ailment is “no concern” going forward.

“I don’t think we’re going to have to manage his reps (in practice all season),” Staley said Friday. “Of course, you know about the groin already ’cause you spoke of it and he’s done a great job dealing with it. Our training staff has done a great job getting him prepped and ready to play so I don’t think we’re going to have to manage.”

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Swift did not start last week’s season-opening loss to the San Francisco 49ers but played 63 offensive snaps and led all Lions in rushes (11) and pass targets (11).

He finished with 104 yards from scrimmage and scored on a 43-yard touchdown catch.

Jamaal Williams, who started at running back, had 110 yards from scrimmage in 32 offensive snaps.

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Staley said he liked how the duo played off each other early in last week’s game, and the rotation the Lions fell into, before Swift saw the majority of snaps in the fourth quarter with the Lions in hurry-up mode.

“Got behind, so therefore things change,” Staley said. “Things change. You’re trying to catch up, you’re trying to score points, so you’re kind of picking up things, you’re picking up the tempo a little bit and you’re going a little bit faster with a different package in the game. But hopefully the rest of these games we can kind of keep that package together and go with the thunder-lighting combo and just hopefully those guys will go out there and perform.”

Packers DE Za’Darius Smith out

The Green Bay Packers will be without top pass rusher Za’Darius Smith when the Lions visit Lambeau Field on Monday night.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur said Friday that Smith is headed to injured reserve with a back injury that limited him to 18 snaps in last week’s loss to the New Orleans Saints.

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“It’s one thing when you’re managing a back throughout the course of the season,” LaFleur said. “Why not try to get him as healthy as possible so we can have him more readily available, hopefully.”

Smith led the Packers with 26 sacks the past two seasons.

Be my Ballentine

The Lions could be breaking in a new kicker returner Monday.

Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said cornerback Corey Ballentine, who the Lions claimed off waivers from the New York Jets on Thursday, is in the mix for return duties.

“He’s a good player and he’s made some plays, both for the (New York) Giants and the Jets,” Fipp said. “Thought he was a productive returner in there, had some nice plays. I thought he made some plays on his own, which is always a good sign for a returner. It wasn’t just the blocking, he was able to make some guys miss, find a seam, good vision. Good competitive player, so excited to have him on the roster and we’ll kind of see where it goes on Monday night.”

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Running back Godwin Igwebuike handled kick returns in the opener for the Lions, but muffed the first kickoff of the game and had another squib through his legs late in the first half.

Ballentine averaged 24 yards per return in 15 games for the Jets and Giants last season.

Kalif Raymond, who was expected to handle returns when he signed with the Lions in March, was used sparingly on special teams last week after winning the No. 2 receiver job in camp.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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