Jared Goff remains in COVID-19 protocols four days after testing positive for the coronavirus, and the Detroit Lions are preparing to face the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday without their No. 1 cornerback, too.
Lions coach Dan Campbell said Goff and cornerback Amani Oruwariye are unlikely to play Sunday. Goff has been on the reserve/COVID-19 list since Monday, and Oruwariye is visiting doctors to see if he needs surgery on the thumb he injured in last week’s win over the Arizona Cardinals.
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“I would say highly unlikely (Goff plays) with where we’re at right now,” Campbell said Friday. “He didn’t clear this morning, so I would say it’s looking doubtful.”
Goff can play Sunday if he tests negative for the virus or his viral load clears a certain threshold, but Tim Boyle is in line to make his second start in six weeks after taking first-team reps in practice all week.
Boyle completed 15 of 23 passes for 77 yards in the Lions’ Nov. 21 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Campbell said that experience, Boyle’s first career start, holds “huge” value as Boyle prepares for the Falcons.
“It’s one thing to play, and look he’s got some time under him just for the fact he’s not a rookie and he’s been behind Aaron Rodgers (when he was a backup with the Green Bay Packers),” Campbell said. “But man, to be able to play in a real game in a season, when, man, the real bullets are flying, it’s third down and I’ve got to make these checks on the fly and different coverages and different fronts and to be able to have to go through that and now literally understand what that’s like when it’s real pressure, I think is really beneficial and I know it has served him well — it will serve him well.”
Oruwariye leads the Lions and is tied for third in the NFL with a career-high six interceptions.
He suffered what Campbell characterized as a ligament and bone injury on the final drive of the Cardinals game, Campbell said the injury could require surgery.
“We’re getting him looking at,” Campbell said. “It happened on the last drive of the game and really he didn’t even know what had happened. So we’re getting it checked out and we’ll see where he’s at, so he’s kind of up in the air right now.”
The Lions have played shorthanded in the secondary most of the season. Jeff Okudah ruptured his Achilles tendon in a Week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, and his replacement, Jerry Jacobs, suffered a torn ACL earlier this month.
Safety Will Harris made his first start at outside cornerback against the Cardinals and likely will remain at that position this week, with rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu starting at the other outside cornerback spot.
“Amani still has one good hand so he can still catch with that hand if he needs to. And he can cover. He’s got his feet,” Campbell said. “But as far as Iffy, I’ll tell you what, man, Iffy, it was good to see. He didn’t get a lot last week but there again, he had already come back to practice before COVID and then you saw him this week getting his legs back under him so look, we feel pretty good. It’ll be — there’ll be some things that’ll come up, but man I feel like he’s moving pretty good and he’s conscientious and if he gets and opportunity, he’ll go make the most of it.”