The Detroit Lions have failed to muster any semblance of a deep passing game in the season’s first five weeks, and now they could be without their top vertical threat for the rest of the season.
Quintez Cephus suffered a broken collarbone in Sunday’s 19-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings and will undergo surgery that Lions coach Dan Campbell said will keep him out “a significant amount of time.”
“Certainly this is weeks and weeks, and that’s if we get him back for the season,” Campbell said.
A fifth-round pick out of Wisconsin in 2020, Cephus was injured with 59 seconds left in Sunday’s first half, when he was driven hard to the ground by two Vikings defenders on the Lions sideline.
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He remained on the ground for several minutes following the play, and was carted to the locker room before halftime.
Cephus is the only Lions player averaging more than 13 yards per catch this season. He has played as the Lions’ primary X receiver in recent weeks, since Tyrell Williams was placed on injured reserve with a brain injury.
The Lions (0-5) finished Sunday’s game with Kalif Raymond, Amon-Ra St. Brown, KhaDarel Hodge and Trinity Benson as their top receivers. Collectively, that quartet had 36 career receptions entering the season.
Hodge saw extensive playing time in Cephus’ absence Sunday, and could take on a more prominent role on offense going forward. He took Cephus’ place on the two-point conversion to give the Lions a brief lead.
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The Lions, one of two remaining winless teams in the NFL, have one of the league’s most conservative passing attacks. Jared Goff is averaging an NFL-worst 3.7 air yards per completion, and the Lions depend heavily on tight end T.J. Hockenson and running back D’Andre Swift for big plays.
Cephus is tied for fourth on the team with 15 catches for 204 yards, behind Swift (29 catches, 252 yards), Hockenson (24-237) and St. Brown (19-178).
Campbell said the Lions will re-evaluate Williams this week to assess if he is ready to return to practice.
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett .