Allen Park — Adrenaline is an amazing thing.
Detroit Lions defensive lineman John Cominsky immediately knew something was wrong when his hand got pinched trying to make a play near the goal line in the fourth quarter of the team’s Week 2 game against Washington. He tried to make a fist but couldn’t, and when he grabbed his thumb, he said it felt “mushy” and he could feel the bone moving freely.
So what did he do? He went back on the field for Detroit’s final defensive series, of course. And not only did he finish the game; he drove the Commanders’ offensive guard back into quarterback Carson Wentz, forcing an overthrow that should have been intercepted on the first snap of that series. Then, on fourth down three plays later, Cominsky sacked Wentz, sealing the victory for the Lions.
“It was late in the fourth quarter, we had one more drive left, so I had the trainer come over and tape it up as best he could,” Cominsky said. “I went back out there and I was happy I did to make the plays I did.”
A couple of days later, Cominsky underwent surgery, getting two screws inserted to stabilize the broken bone, temporarily putting him on the shelf. It’s an unfortunate injury for a player who was playing the best football of his young career, establishing himself as a true offseason find for the Lions.
Claimed off waivers from Atlanta in early June, the 6-foot-5, 285-pounder steadily worked his way up the depth chart through training camp and the preseason. And by the time the regular season rolled around, he had carved out a pretty clear role in the team’s third-down rush package, while occasionally spelling the starting defensive ends on early downs.
The 59 defensive snaps he logged the first two games were more than triple what he saw with the Falcons last year. And Cominsky has been maximizing his opportunities. The sack to end the Washington game was his 10th quarterback pressure, which led the team through two games.
“It’s a role that’s awesome to have, which is why I was fighting so hard to maintain it and do well at it because I don’t want to give that spot up,” Cominsky said. “My role is a privilege. I felt very privileged and honored to be in it, so I’m going to fight to get it back.”
It’s still unclear how long the thumb will keep him out. He’s due for X-rays next week to see how the bone is healing, which should help the team establish a clearer timetable. Presently, there’s enough optimism that he hasn’t been placed on injured reserve, which would require him to miss a minimum of four games.
In the meantime, Cominsky is working on maintaining his cardio levels, staying active in the meeting room and carrying around a play-call sheet during practice so that he can run through each snap mentally. It’s all he can do to ensure he picks up where he left off.
“As far as losing my momentum, it’s just pressing pause for a little bit,” Cominsky said. “I’m planning to go back out there and build on it.”