Allen Park — Running backs D’Andre Swift (groin) and Jamaal Williams (chest) both popped up on Thursday’s injury report, but position coach Duce Staley isn’t concerned about either long term.
“No concern,” Staley said Friday.
Swift and Williams were bright spots in the Week 1 loss, combining for 214 yards from scrimmage, while averaging 4.7 yards per carry and each scoring a touchdown.
Swift ended up playing twice as many snaps as Williams, in large part due to the lopsided score in the second half. Still, Staley liked the way the snap split worked during the more situationally neutral first half.
“I did, because you know, they’re in it for the long haul and we got to make sure we get a good balance, right?” Staley said. “Hopefully, the rest of these games we can kinda keep that package together and go with the thunder-lightning combo. Hopefully those guys just go out there and perform.”
In 22 pro games, Lions kicker Austin Seibert’s longest field goal is from 53 yards. Despite that, special teams coordinator Dave Fipp praised Seibert’s leg strength heading into the opener, which was validated when he easily had enough distance on a make from 49 yards and a narrow miss from 51 yards out.
Every game is going to be different, and coaches usually set a maximum range for attempts before games based on conditions and how the kicker is feeling during warm-ups, but Fipp wouldn’t dismiss Seibert easily besting his previous career long if the opportunity arises for such an attempt.
“I mean he can bang the ball,” Fipp said. “I’ve seen him hit 67 (yards) out there. … It depends on the wind, weather, all that stuff, too, would factor into that. But he’s got a big leg. He’s got plenty of leg on most situations we’re going to need.”
Return man role
Fipp has also said that competition for roles with his units is continuous, so while Godwin Igwebuike served as the return man for the season opener, it doesn’t mean he has the job locked down going forward.
Igwebuike struggled a bit with ball security against the 49ers, putting two of his four return attempts on the ground, but Fipp seemed minimally concerned about those potentially costly errors.
“It just happens out there,” Fipp said. “You’d like to think it’s easier than that, but at the end of the day, you get out there in an NFL stadium and the lights are on, he just lost a little concentration right at the last second. Obviously, we’ve got to be better than that, I’ve got to prepare him better than that, and we’ve got to play better than that.”
The Lions have a number of other options on the roster, including cornerback Corey Ballentine, who was claimed off waivers on Thursday. The former sixth-round draft pick returned 31 kicks his first two seasons with the Giants and Jets, averaging 24.5 yards.
Fipp, as the special teams coordinator in Philadelphia during that time, has seen Ballentine’s ability up close.
“He’s made some plays, both for the Giants and Jets,” Fipp said. “I thought he was a productive returner 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 kinda see where it goes on Monday night.”
Detroit remained without wide receiver Tyrell Williams and defensive end Kevin Strong during Friday’s practice, as both players are in concussion protocol. With Williams expected to miss Monday’s game, offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn confirmed preseason standout Tom Kennedy is likely to be active against the Packers.
The 5-foot-10, 194-pound Kennedy led the Lions in receiving yards this preseason with eight catches for 107 yards.
For the Packers, they’ll be without top pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith. Coach Matt LaFleur confirmed Friday the defensive end is being shut down and put on injured reserve because of a lingering back injury.
Smith, a Pro Bowler each of the past two seasons, missed the entire preseason with the injury before giving it a go in the team’s Week 1 loss to the Saints. In 2019 and 2020, he tallied 26 sacks.