The Detroit Lions practiced indoors on Thursday, as they ramp up for a Week 6 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. They got some good news on the injury front today as three starters were upgraded from no practice on Wednesday to limited practices on Thursday, but they also had another starter go in the opposite direction, and he wasn’t at practice.
Let’s take a look at where the Lions’ injured players are after Thursday’s practice, with the changes noted in bold.
Return to practice tracker
- LT Taylor Decker (finger) — Day 2 of the 21-day evaluation period
- DL Kevin Strong (thigh) — Day 2 of the 21-day evaluation period
A reminder that these players are currently still on injured reserve, do not count against the active roster at this time, and therefore won’t be on the injury report until they are activated. That activation can happen at any time during the 21-day evaluation window.
Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn told the media Thursday that Decker only participated in walkthrough snaps on Wednesday, but the plan was to expand his workload as the week progresses.
“Hopefully today he may get some practice reps just to see how he moves around and see how uses that hand,” Lynn said ahead of today’s practice.
A few beat writers mentioned that Decker had what appeared to be cast or brace on his left hand on Wednesday, but Dave Birkett of the Free Press is reporting that on Thursday, “he appeared to be wearing a glove with his hand taped”. That sounds like a promising development, but it could also be that Decker is trying different protective equipment to see what feels most comfortable.
“They (offensive linemen) use their hands a lot,” Lynn said. “That is very true, and so putting a club on it and trying to play, guys have done it. It’s just whatever you’re comfortable with. Right now, we just want to see him get back out there and take a live rep before we can decide anything.”
While media is only privy to the first 15 minutes of practice, it’s worth noting that Penei Sewell continues to get reps on the left side during individual drills, which could be a sign that the team is preparing to be without Decker this week. Decker, meanwhile, took a few individual reps at left tackle after Sewell.
No practice on Thursday
- RB Jamaal Williams (illness/hip) – Downgraded from limited practice on Wednesday
- CB/KR Corey Ballentine (hamstring)
After being limited all of last week, Williams was able to play effectively in the game on Sunday. When he opened the week limited once again, it wasn’t overly surprising, but he was not on the practice field at all Thursday, but it appears that may be related to an illness, which has been added to his injury report.
If Williams is unable to play on Sunday, that would likely mean seventh round rookie Jermar Jefferson would make his NFL debut. He’s a player that many, including myself, have been looking forward to seeing get some playing time.
Ballentine missed a second straight practice, which may mean Godwin Igwebuike will be called upon to return kicks once again. Ballentine took Igwebuike’s kick return job in Week 4 and has been the team’s primary option since.
- RB D’Andre Swift (groin)
- TE T.J. Hockenson (knee) – upgraded from no practice on Wednesday
- LG Jonah Jackson (shoulder)
- EDGE Trey Flowers (knee) – upgraded from no practice on Wednesday
- CB Amani Oruwariye (hip) – upgraded from no practice on Wednesday
Hockenson, Flowers, and Oruwariye were upgraded to limited practices today, indicating they are headed in the right direction to play on Sunday.
Both Hockenson and Flowers were limited last week and played in Sunday’s game, and their return to practice today indicates Wednesday may have just been a rest period as they nurse injuries. Hockenson was seen with a “a pretty serious compression sleeve on his right leg” per our own Jeremy Reisman, while Flowers “did not appear too limited”.
Oruwariye’s hip injury didn’t appear to limit him during last week’s game and it’s also likely coaches were just managing his pain on Wednesday as well. Keep an eye on his status tomorrow.
Jackson got in back-to-back limited practices with his a good sign for his status this weekend.
Meanwhile, the rest/limited strategy is par for the course for Swift during practices, and it appears to be working, as he has not looked limited in games.