Allen Park — Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell confirmed what many had already assumed; his team will not be putting in a waiver claim for former All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
“Look, (general manager) Brad (Holmes) and I talk about everything,” Campbell said. “He was no different. I’d leave it at that. Our ears and our eyes are open to everything and if there was a certain to make things work, we’d be open to just about any player, if it made sense.”
Beckham has struggled to produce the past two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, the team that traded for him ahead of the 2019 season. Injuries limited him to seven games last season and he finished the year with 23 catches for 319 yards and three touchdowns. This year, things had been going worse, with 17 grabs for 232 yards and two scores in six games before the sides agreed to a divorce.
A contract restructure prior to his release on Monday will reportedly still leave Beckham with a hefty $7.5 million salary in 2021. That’s one of the reasons it would be tough to make it work here, since the Lions would have to create significant cap space to add him.
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In addition, there are the unspoken personality conflicts that led to the split with the Browns that would be problematic to Detroit’s rebuild, where the culture is still being established.
Finally, multiple reports have indicated Beckham hopes to latch on with a contender, which the winless Lions most certainly are not.
Backup QB back in mix
Lions quarterback Tim Boyle is returning to practice this week, starting a 21-day window for the team to evaluate whether he has sufficiently healed from the thumb injury he suffered in the preseason.
Signed by the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2018, Boyle spent his first three years with that franchise, appearing in 11 games, typically to take a knee at the end of a blowout win.
A preseason standout with the Packers, the Lions signed him a one-year, $2.5 million contract to back up Jared Goff this season. And while Boyle didn’t replicate that exhibition success here, he did enough to maintain a slight advantage over David Blough prior to suffering the thumb injury.
Lions coach Dan Campbell said he’s confident Boyle will be both physically ready and mentally prepared, since he’s continued to take part in every meeting this season.
The primary hurdle the quarterback will need to clear to regain the coaching staff’s confidence is proving the injury isn’t lingering in the back of his mind and impacting his play.
“Sometimes, you never know when you’re coming back from an injury, particularly when you’re at that position, throwing with somebody in face, does it just kinda creep back in your head?,” Campbell said. “… Look, he’s been in all the meetings, he’s been doing everything. Mentally, he’s ready, he’s locked in. He knows every game plan we go through, so that’s not the issue. It will just be getting through some of these little cobwebs and making sure he feels 100% comfortable in his own skin under duress.”
Another test for Decker
Campbell expects offensive tackle Taylor Decker to return to practice this week, following a setback to his surgically repaired finger last month.
The Lions activated Decker off injured reserve during the bye, after his 21-day window to return expired, but Campbell said the team won’t know if he’ll play this week against Pittsburgh until they see how he holds up in practice.
“Really, until Wednesday comes and we get through the practice, I won’t know a lot,” Campbell said. “We’re certainly prepared if he’s got the right look, we can tell that he knows he’s ready, he feels good and we get through it, then we’ll move that way.”
Campbell confirmed that Decker will practice at left tackle, with rookie Penei Sewell moving back to the right side after starting the first eight games in Decker’s stead on the blindside. The coach said he has no concerns about Sewell’s ability to adjust to the assignment.
“I know plenty of people that played left-handed and right-handed stance,” Campbell said. “Tight ends do it for years. Now, they’re not tackles, I get it, but at the same token, you get comfortable with it when you do it. I think he’ll go over there and won’t miss a beat, me personally. It will be a little odd, but I also know he’s got enough reps over there, and look, he’s a damn good athlete and he’s a professional. He wants to win, he wants to win his reps, so I think he’ll go over there and do just fine.”
Receiver’s release explained
The Lions also waived wide receiver Tyrell Williams, with an injury settlement, during the bye. He’s been out of action since suffering a concussion in the season opener.
Campbell said Williams is doing better, but after talking to the player, realized it wasn’t going to come together this season for him to be able to come back and contribute.
“The writing was on the wall,” Campbell said. “I think both sides felt like there’s nothing happening this year. It’s not going to happen. I talked to him a little bit ago. I wish him the best and I hope he heals and everything, but it, there again, was a mutual parting of ways.”