Detroit Lions’ COVID-19 cases multiply; Tracy Walker, Jamaal Williams latest on list

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions are dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19, but their game Sunday against the Denver Broncos remains on.

The Lions placed safety Tracy Walker and running back Jamaal Williams on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday, bringing their total number of COVID cases this week to four.

On Monday, the Lions placed center Evan Brown on the reserve/COVID list. On Thursday, they placed cornerback Bobby Price on the list.

All four are expected to miss Sunday’s game.

Vaccinated players who can produce two negative tests in a 24-hour span can still play.

NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said by email Sunday’s game remains on as scheduled.

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The Lions altered their practice schedule in recent days to account for a bug that has been coursing through the team’s Allen Park practice facility since last week.

Penei Sewell missed practice time last week with an illness, and the Lions held John Penisini out of last week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings because he was sick.

Quarterback Jared Goff said he played through the flu against the Vikings, and Goff is one of 12 Lions who appeared on the injury report this week due to an illness other than COVID.

On Wednesday, the Lions held a split-session practice, with offensive players taking part in a morning walk-through and meetings and defensive players doing the same in the afternoon.

On Thursday, they held 21 players out of practice, opting for a light workout for offensive skill players, linebackers and defensive backs, and sending most linemen on both sides of the ball home after a morning workday.

Third-string center Ryan McCollum, who is expected to start in Brown’s place, was the only lineman to practice Thursday.

He said Friday he feels “good” and has not had any sign of sickness.

“No, not really,” McCollum said when asked if he was jealous the rest of the team’s linemen did not practice Thursday. “It is what it is. Like I said, I haven’t played so I didn’t really need the day off. I went out, got some extra snaps with Jared so we could be ready to roll on Sunday.”

The Lions listed 12 players as questionable on their injury report, 10 of them with an illness: Sewell, Jonah Jackson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Charles Harris, Alim McNeill, Levi Onwuzurike, Nick Williams, Michael Brockers, Penisini and Riley Patterson.

McNeill, Onwuzurike and Harris did not practice Friday.

Matt Nelson (ankle) and Austin Bryant (shoulder) also are questionable.

Running back D’Andre Swift (shoulder) and linebackers Jalen Reeves-Maybin (shoulder) and Julian Okwara (ankle) will not play Sunday, and tight end T.J. Hockenson is doubtful after missing his second straight practice with a hand injury.

Godwin Igwebuike and Jermar Jefferson are expected to see the bulk of the running back reps Sunday with Swift and Williams out of action. Practice squad running back Craig Reynolds also is in line for a promotion to the gameday roster.

Swift leads the Lions in rushing yards (555), carries (140) and touchdowns (four). Williams is second in all three categories. Hockenson leads the team in receiving yards (583), receptions (61) and touchdowns (four).

“I didn’t foresee (having an altered practice schedule this week) getting ready for Denver,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “But it’s the hand you’re dealt and so we make the most of it and I just bring this up, it’s like, just because we’re young doesn’t mean that we’re immature. I want to hope and feel like we’ve grown and we are growing up and we can handle this. And you know what? We have to. We’ve just preached to our guys, there’s no excuses, it’s just results. Nobody cares. So we got to go make it happen.”

Campbell, who is healthy, said the team does not plan to take any added travel precautions before flying to Denver on Saturday.

“Here’s the beauty of the way we travel anyway, because of the COVID restrictions and everything, we’re pretty good about just the way we do that,” he said. “I mean, everybody has to wear a mask. We all get tested as normal. I think if anything, what we may do is huddle a few of these guys up that are already feeling crummy or coming back from it and just make sure they’re kind of isolated if you will. But we’ll travel properly and be good.”

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

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