Minneapolis — The Detroit Lions appear as if they’ve suffered another serious injury at one of their thinnest position groups.
In the closing minutes of the first half of Sunday’s 19-17 loss, wide receiver Quintez Cephus exited the contest after he was landed on by a Vikings defender making a tackle near the sideline on a 21-yard, third-down catch.
“It looks like it’s in the shoulder, front area,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “Could be his clavicle, could be his shoulder, but it doesn’t look good.”
The Lions entered the year short on experience and short on talent at the receiver position. And things only got worse in Week 1, when No. 1 option Tyrell Williams was sidelined by a concussion that has kept him out of action the past four games weeks.
Cephus had been the beneficiary of Williams’ injury, seeing his playing time and production swell the previous three games.
Entering Sunday, Cephus was coming off the best performance of his young career, having caught four of the five balls thrown his way for 83 yards in a loss to the Chicago Bears. And he was in the process of building off that outing against the Vikings, hauling in all three targets for 38 yards.
With Cephus out, the Lions leaned more heavily on KhaDarel Hodge across the final two quarters. Added as a waiver claim just before the start of the season, he finished with one catch for 17 yards, as well as the go-ahead two-point conversion in the final minute.
“I don’t know if KhaDarel Hodge ran that route ever,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “I think it was Cephus the whole time in practice. and then Cephus goes down and KhaDarel steps in and being a smart player, knowing what he’s supposed to do and gets himself open. You know, that kind of indicates the type of guys we have, which is encouraging there.”
Williams remains on injured reserve, but is eligible to come off as soon as he’s medically cleared. If he remains out of action next week, Hodge could see a continued expansion of his workload. Prior to Sunday, he had played just 13 offensive snaps through the first four games.
Hodge played 291 offensive snaps in nine games with the Cleveland Browns last season, catching 11 passes for 180 yards.