The Detroit Lions are dealing with a rash of injuries at the offensive skill positions and likely will be without running back D’Andre Swift for Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Swift was one of the six key offensive players who did not practice Wednesday, along with receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds, tight end T.J. Hockenson and offensive linemen Jonah Jackson and Frank Ragnow. That group accounts for 76.7% of the Lions’ receiving production this season (574 of 748 yards) and 58.5% of their rushing production (299 of 511 yards).
While Ragnow and Hockenson got a day off for maintance on their toe and hip injuries, respectively, and Reynolds is trending towards playing against the Seahawks after suffering a low ankle sprain in last week’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Swift is dealing with a pair of injuries that could cost him one or more games.
The third-year running back has played through a sprained ankle he suffered in the first half of a Week 1 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and he sprained his shoulder last week against the Vikings.
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Lions coach Dan Campbell said Swift felt better Wednesday than he did after the game, but “would have to be significantly better probably to play” this week.
“I mean, it’d have to be this, the skies open up and the bright light comes out and I’m good to go and it feels unbelievable and here we go,” Campbell said.
Swift leads the Lions in rushing yards (231) and yards from scrimmage (308), and is a big reason the Lions (1-2) rank second in the NFL in points scored and third in rushing yards through three games. He has two rushes of 50-plus yards this season and his big-play ability keyed the Lions’ lone win of the season, Week 2 win against the Washington Commanders.
“We all know he’s a weapon for us, but we’re prepared for this,” Campbell said. “We knew it would be hard to get through a full season with him being healthy. That’s the nature of the position and Swift’s — man, he’s different, and I mean that in a good way. That’s the way it goes. And so we’re prepared for this and those backs’ll do a good job. And we’ll find touches for other guys.”
St. Brown, who leads the Lions with 23 catches, 253 yards and three receiving touchdowns, is “in the same boat” as Swift, Campbell said, though his path to playing through a sprained ankle Sunday is more open. Jackson spent the open portion of Wednesday’s practice working with trainers, but is expected to miss his third straight game with a finger injury this week.
Kicker Austin Seibert, linebacker Chris Board and cornerback Bobby Price also did not practice Wednesday.
Campbell said the Lions game-planned for the Seahawks as if they will be short-handed on offense, which could mean bigger roles for Hockenson, DJ Chark and Quintez Cephus this week.
Hockenson has 10 catches and Chark seven on the season, but neither has more than 100 yards receiving and both have appeared out of synch with quarterback Jared Goff at times.
“You just kind of play the odds and who do we think has the best chance of playing? And you start to lean that way with your gameplan early, and then you’re prepared to shift if you need to later,” Campbell said. “But I think you, for the most part, you go with where your gut tells you with the guys who are going to play. And then how do we work them into the gameplan and give them a chance to have success?”
Even with Swift out, the Lions have proven to be a formidable rushing team this season. They have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, led by tackles Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell, and backup running back Jamaal Williams has four touchdowns on the year and is coming off an 87-yard rushing day.
Craig Reynolds and Justin Jackson also could see time at running back against the Seahawks if Swift can’t play.
“I mean, for the most part, Swift was, he didn’t get a lot of work last week,” Campbell said. “He got a little bit, but obviously he was a little banged up so we leaned on Jamaal and he did a hell of a job, and Craig’ll take a little bit more and so will Jackson. It’ll be by committee and we’re confident, very confident. Trust those guys.”