As an offensive lineman well-schooled in trench warfare, Jonah Jackson considers his right hand his gun and his left hand his knife.
“This is to stab. This is the feel hand, you get to swipe it,” the Detroit Lions guard said, holding up his left hand. “This is the power hand. You can grip it, and this side, you settle in and kind of just shut down the rush.”
Jackson suffered a bone and ligament injury in his right ring finger in practice two weeks ago and has not been able to properly shoot his gun since.
He can’t bend his finger — it is supposed to stay in a splint for six weeks. And when he nicked it on the steering wheel of his car recently, he felt a shot of searing pain.
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“I went to put my hand up on my steering wheel just to put it at the top, and I caught it going down this way,” Jackson said. “It’s not a tear-jerker, but it’s up there.”
Jackson is expected to miss his third straight game Sunday when the Lions host the Seattle Seahawks, though he worked out on the field with trainers during the open portion of practice Wednesday. He considers himself “week to week” after he opted against surgery that would have landed him on injured reserve; he still hopes to return before the bye.
“How I’m looking at it is just a week-to-week thing, day by day, see how it feels,” Jackson said. “It’s definitely improving. Like, swelling’s gone down tremendously, it’s just a matter of the sensitivity going away, get through that.”
Jackson’s injury is the latest in a string of hits to a star-crossed offensive line.
Last year, left tackle Taylor Decker missed eight games with a similar injury to his left index finger, and center Frank Ragnow missed 13 games with a toe injury. This season, right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai is out indefinitely following back surgery, and Ragnow missed a Week 2 win over the Washington Commanders with turf toe.
The Lions’ top offensive line has not played a snap together in 2021-22, but the team still ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards and fifth in sack percentage allowed.
Jackson said he’s proud of how backup linemen Evan Brown, Dan Skipper and Logan Stenberg have played in recent weeks, but frustrated at his own inability to get on the field.
“The crazy thing is, it’s just, I’ve (played through) sprained MCLs, (injured) shoulders, collarbones and to think a finger, something so minute, (is keeping me out),” he said. “But it takes a big part into the game that we play, especially up front. How we win is with our hands and our feet.”
Jackson said he hurt his finger in a non-padded practice when he caught it on a defensive lineman’s spider pads.
Contact Dave Birkett at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.
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