Detroit Lions’ Dan Campbell: ‘We’re going to make this work’ despite injuries

Detroit Free Press

When the Detroit Lions face the Minnesota Vikings this weekend, they likely will be without their two best players on the offensive line.

Lions coach Dan Campbell said Monday that Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow suffered a turf toe-type injury in Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bears and is doubtful to play this weekend.

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Left tackle Taylor Decker has not played since suffered a left hand injury in the preseason, and is unlikely return this week, Campbell said.

Ragnow left Sunday’s game after prematurely snapping the ball off quarterback Jared Goff’s leg on the Lions’ opening drive. He met with trainers on the sideline, then walked to the locker room, though Campbell said Ragnow’s injury did not happen on that play.

“He’s got basically a version of turf toe right now, is what he’s got,” Campbell said. “We’ll know a lot more this afternoon with him. I would say he’s probably going to be out, though.”

With Ragnow and Decker likely sidelined, the Lions’ offensive line, considered their biggest strength heading into the season, could be a liability against an aggressive Vikings defense. Minnesota (1-3) ranks fourth in the NFL in sack rate, and defensive end Danielle Hunter, a noted Lions killer throughout his career, is tied for second in the league with five sacks.

Rookie Penei Sewell should make his fifth straight start at left tackle, and Evan Brown likely will replace Ragnow at center.

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The Lions have not played a single snap this season with their projected starting line in August: Decker at left tackle, Jonah Jackson at left guard, Ragnow at center, Halapoulivaati Vaitai at right guard and Sewell at right tackle.

Along with Ragnow, the Lions also lost top pass rusher Romeo Okwara to a torn Achilles tendon on Sunday, Campbell said. Okwara led the Lions with 10 sacks last season.

“We hate that for Romes, man,” Campbell said. “I’ll tell you what, man, the way he works and everything that he’s put into this, he’s a top-notch pro and I hate it for him. I hate it for our team, but I know he’ll come back better than ever next year.”

Trey Flowers, who has missed the past two games with knee and shoulder injuries, could return against the Vikings, Campbell said, and the Lions have good depth at the outside linebacker position with Charles Harris, Austin Bryant and Julian Okwara in reserve roles.

“There’s a chance we get Trey back this week, so that helps,” Campbell said. “And then look, we can always shift. To your point, we can always go a little bigger, a little heavier, a little more four-down front type things, so we’ve got flexibility. We can move in any direction we need to move in, per our personnel and our depth. So yeah, look, we’re going to make this work.”

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

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