Jared Goff isn’t the only key offensive player the Detroit Lions will have back in the mix for Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Lions coach Dan Campbell said Wednesday running back D’Andre Swift is in line to return after a four-week absence due to a sprained shoulder.
Swift has not played since the first half of a Thanksgiving loss to the Chicago Bears.
“We feel like he’s going to be ready this week and he’s been wanting to go,” Campbell said. “So I think we feel like we’re in a place where, let’s go and cut him loose and let’s let him continue to grow and get better. That way we go into next year, he’s that much better for it.”
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Swift leads the Lions with 140 carries, 555 yards rushing and six total touchdowns.
He posted career-highs of 33 carries and 130 yards rushing in a Nov. 14 tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he first injured his shoulder, and had 136 yards the following week in a loss to the Cleveland Browns.
The Lions (2-12-1) are 2-2 with Swift out of the lineup and have averaged 118.5 yards rushing the past four weeks with a patchwork running game.
Backup running back Jamaal Williams missed two games with COVID-19, Godwin Igwebuike and Craig Reynolds made fill-in starts against the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals, and Reynolds, promoted from the practice squad, has 224 yards rushing the past three weeks.
Swift, in his second NFL season, returned to practice on a limited basis last week. Campbell said the Lions have not given any thought to shutting Swift down and believe there is value in having him on the field that will carry over to 2022.
“We look at it as it’s an opportunity for him to grow,” Campbell said. “I think the thought is we’ll shut him down after (our last game against) Green Bay is probably what we’ll do with him. No, he’s still got room to grow and we’re not going to put him out there until he’s healthy.”
The Lions activated swing tackle Matt Nelson and receiver Trinity Benson from the reserve/COVID list Wednesday.
Campbell said Nelson, who has played heavily as the Lions’ sixth offensive lineman since the bye, will help the team’s depleted tight end room.
The Lions lost Shane Zylstra and Jason Cabinda to knee injuries last week, placed Brock Wright on reserve/COVID on Tuesday and lost T.J. Hockenson to season-ending thumb surgery earlier this month.
Jared Pinkney, who the Lions signed off the Los Angeles Rams practice squad Tuesday, is the only healthy tight end on the Lions’ 53-man roster. Former Michigan tight end Nick Eubanks and Ross Travis, who also signed Tuesday, are on the practice squad.
Told he was next up in the Lions’ tight end rotation, Campbell, a former NFL tight end, said that won’t be happening.
“That’s a negative,” he said. “That would not be good. There’d be a kneecap over there on the ground of my own that just fell off. And an ankle.”
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