The Detroit Lions placed starting offensive tackles Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker on the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, and while both could return for Sunday’s season finale against the Green Bay Packers, Lions coach Dan Campbell said he is preparing as if neither will be in the lineup.
“Taylor, if he’s able to go, he’ll be good,” Campbell said. “Mentally, he’ll be on it. He’ll be doing the virtual meetings. He’s played a lot of ball, so I think he’ll be ready to go. I think Sewell can handle it, too, as long as they’re physically ready and back from COVID. So it’s doable.”
The Lions lost starting receiver Josh Reynolds to COVID last Monday but went into the week believing he would play in Sunday’s 51-29 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
The NFL changed its COVID protocols last week to allow players who test positive for the virus to return after five days if they are asymptomatic.
Reynolds was one of four players reinstated to the 53-man roster Monday, along with defensive tackle Michael Brockers, offensive guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai and tight end Brock Wright.
Brockers and Vaitai missed the minimum five days.
“I think you got to prepare like you’re not going to have them,” Campbell said. “I mean, we thought we would have Josh — and that was being hopeful, I was being optimistic with it and we didn’t get Josh Reynolds, so lesson learned there a little bit.”
Matt Nelson and Will Holden are next in line to start at offensive tackle for a Lions team that has used six and seven lineman in its jumbo packages frequently in recent weeks.
Campbell admitted last week the surge in COVID cases around the NFL has been exhausting to deal with as teams shuffle players on and off their rosters.
The Lions lost seven defensive backs to COVID in an eight-day span last month, when players had to quarantine for 10 days after a positive test, and more recently they’ve dealt with losses on the offensive side of the ball including quarterback Jared Goff and starting receivers Reynolds and Kalif Raymond.
Unvaccinated players undergo daily COVID testing, while the league is primarily relying on vaccinated players to self-report symptoms. Campbell said players have had to make tough decisions, knowing they could miss a game if they test positive but not wanting to endanger their teammates and teammates’ families by concealing an illness.
“The hardest part is not that you lost the guy, the hardest part is not knowing who you’re about to lose,” Campbell said. “That’s the thing. You’re game-planning, let’s get the next guy ready, no problem. But now, the next guy may be the one who’s out. And the fact that just the — you get pressed against time to prepare those players. So yeah, it can get frustrating, but it’s part of who we are and part of the game right now, I guess if you will, and everybody’s having to deal with it. There again, you just do the best you can with it and move on. And you work with what you got.”
Campbell said he had no issue with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll’s late-game play calling Sunday.
The Seahawks called a deep pass play after the two-minute warning that Russell Wilson completed to D’Wayne Eskridge for a 30-yard gain inside the 1-yard line.
Seattle led by 22 points at the time and needed a first down to run out the clock. Wilson, playing perhaps his final home game as a Seahawk, took two kneel-down snaps from the 1 after the play
“The way I look at that is, well, if you don’t like it, you better stop it then,” Campbell said. “And, hey man, kudos. And to be honest with you, if they would have run it in at the end, I wouldn’t have had a problem with that, either. It’s up to us to stop them. There’s 60 minutes on the game clock so if you got a problem then why don’t you stop it. Otherwise, they’ll just keep piling it on. So no, I don’t have any problem with that.”
The Lions also placed defensive end Austin Bryant on the reserve/COVID list Monday, and running back Rodney Smith on practice reserve/COVID. … Lions scout Bird Sherrill has left the organization to become director of college personnel at the University of Florida.