Injury report: Tommy Kraemer misses, Ifeatu Melifonwu returns on Wednesday

Pride of Detroit

The Detroit Lions released their first injury report of the 2022 season on Wednesday and while a couple of former third-round picks returned to practice, they also suffered an injury along the offensive line that has the team exploring creative replacement options.

Before we get into the injuries on the active roster, let’s reset where the team is with their reserve players and when they are eligible to return to action.

Reserve lists

  • RG Halapoulivaati Vaitai (back): Injured Reserve, eligible to return in Week 5
  • WR Jameson Williams (ACL): NFI, eligible to return in Week 5
  • FB Jason Cabinda (ankle): PUP, eligible to return in Week 5
  • EDGE Romeo Okwara (Achilles): PUP, eligible to return in Week 5
  • EDGE Josh Paschal (sports hernia): PUP, eligible to return in Week 5
  • CB Jerry Jacobs (ACL): PUP, eligible to return in Week 5

Williams, Cabinda, Okwara, Paschal, and Jacobs have been on their respective reserve list throughout training camp and will miss at least the first four weeks, with some players not expected to return until the middle of the season.

Vaitai was placed on injured reserve on Monday but he still falls under the same timeline as the other reserve players because he was placed there ahead of Week 1.

“Yeah, it was a back, and it was something that I think it bothered him at Pittsburgh, and once we got it checked out, it was something we felt like we needed to sit him,” coach Dan Campbell said of Vaitai on Wednesday. “So, we know he’s down for at least four (games) and we’ll take it week by week and see how he does.”

Campbell said the Lions are exploring several options on how to fill the vacated starting right guard role, but one of those options may already be in jeopardy, as reserve interior lineman Tommy Kraemer missed practice on Wednesday.

No practice

  • IOL Tommy Kraemer (back)
  • DL Levi Onwuzurike (back)
  • EDGE John Cominsky (illness)

“What I like about Tommy is you know exactly what you’re going to get,” Campbell said. “We know exactly who the player is, what he is, he’s a consistent player, and he grew through the spring and through training camp. And so, he makes the most of what he has. He’s pretty dependable, and he’s smart.”

While Kraemer has received snaps at guard, center, and tackle, he has consistently been repping as the second-team right guard in training camp. With three starts at guard in 2021 under his belt, he seemed like a natural replacement option for Vaitai, but it’s now looking like the Lions may have to pivot in another direction.

Onwuzurike has been out for several weeks, after re-aggravating his back during training camp. The last update on his status came last week when Campbell said things were progressing slowly and he was unlikely to return in time for Week 1.

“He’s trending the right way but it’s at a snail’s pace is the best way to say it,” Campbell said. “He’s doing everything we’re asking him to do, it is getting better, but I don’t know. I would say this, if you’re asking me right now, you’re twisting my arm, I’m saying he’s not available for Philly, that’s me, but we’ll see.”

Cominsky seized his opportunity to earn a roster spot in camp—with Romeo Okwara and Paschal on reserve/PUP—and had settled into a role backing up Aidan Hutchinson. It’s certainly possible he’s not out long with an illness.

Limited practice

  • C Frank Ragnow (groin)
  • EDGE Julian Okwara (hamstring)
  • LB Chris Board (knee)
  • S Ifeatu Melifonwu (hamstring)
  • K Austin Seibert (right groin)

To make matters even more complicated along the offensive line, starting All Pro center Frank Ragnow is dealing with a groin injury. At this point, it’s unclear how limited Ragnow is with the injury, but it’s never good to see the team’s best player on the injury report this early in the year, especially when groin injuries can linger. Evan Brown, who started 12 games at center for the Lions last year, would replace Ragnow, if necessary.

Julian Okwara returned to practice last week and with Cominsky’s status up in the air, he may not have time to slowly re-acclimate back into game mode because the Lions may need the pass-rushing depth.

Melifonwu, after not practicing in nearly a month, was able to return to the practice field on Wednesday, and safeties coach Brian Duker sounded encouraged about his ability to jump back into the mix.

“I feel very good about where he is mentally based on everything I’ve seen in the meeting room,” Duker said.

Melifonwu transitioned from corner to safety this offseason, and while he was originally in competition for a top reserve role, missing so much time has put him in a catch-up position.

“Missing reps, obviously that slows the transition (to safety) and makes it more difficult. But he was doing a really good job before he got hurt. I expect him to continue where he left off once he gets it back.”

Chris Board is a new addition to the list. While Board may not be in line for any snaps on defense—with Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes and rookie Malcolm Rodriguez expected to lead the linebacking corps—he is a key player on the team’s special teams unit.

Finally, Seibert is dealing with a groin injury, which could have a big impact on his availability this Sunday. Last year, Seibert had surgery on his adductors—a group of muscles by the inner thigh—and missed the final half of the season. If Seibert cannot go on Sunday, the Lions did sign Aldrick Rosas to their practice squad last week. Rosas made one game appearance for Detroit last year, making both of his kicks; an extra point and a 44-yard field goal.

Full practice

  • No injured players listed

Eagles injury report

Here’s a look at the Eagles’ initial injury report:

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