Detroit Lions’ Dan Campbell: ‘The good Lord’s looking after us’ with early bye week

Detroit Free Press

Usually Dan Campbell is a fan of the midseason bye week. This year, the Detroit Lions coach is thrilled to have his bye early in the season.

Top receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown returned to practice Friday for the first time since spraining his ankle in a Week 3 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, but the Lions still are dealing with enough nagging injuries, especially on offense, that Campbell is counting the days till next week’s bye.

“You know what’s interesting is normally when you think about the bye, you would love to have it right in the middle of the season. I mean, literally, Week 10ish, somewhere in there,” Campbell said. “But it couldn’t come at a better time for us. I mean, it actually is a blessing. And so it’ll be huge to have this bye next week cause we will get a significant amount of our players back, and very good players back. So it’s a blessing. The good Lord’s looking after us.”

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St. Brown’s availability for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots will hinge on how he fares in practice and how his ankle feels Saturday, but the Lions (1-3) still will be without several key players as they try to snap a two-game losing streak.

Running back D’Andre Swift (shoulder) and receiver Quintez Cephus (foot) did not practice Friday and are not expected to play against the Patriots. Swing tackle Matt Nelson missed his second straight practice with a calf injury. Defensive end Charles Harris did not practice after suffering a groin injury late in Thursday’s practice. And defensive lineman John Cominsky remains out following September wrist surgery.

The Lions expect to get left guard Jonah Jackson (finger) back Sunday, and receiver DJ Chark (ankle) said he expects to play, though he did not practice Friday. But both among more than a half-dozen other players dealing with nagging injuries.

Center Frank Ragnow has been limited in practice the past three weeks by a turf toe injury, backup center Evan Brown missed time earlier this week with an ankle injury, tight end T.J. Hockenson is playing through a hip injury, receiver Josh Reynolds has a low ankle sprain, kicker Austin Seibert sat out practice Friday with a sore groin and top special teams player Chris Board returned to practice Friday after missing two days with a knee injury.

Offensively, the Lions have thrived despite the injuries. They lead the NFL in scoring and total offense and rank among the top six in both the run and the pass.

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Still, Campbell said the possible return of St. Brown, who has a team-high 23 catches for 253 yards and three touchdowns, would be a boost for the offense.

“Certainly anytime you can get a player like him back it helps from production but also just what he brings,” Campbell said. “He’s a spark plug, he’s a leader, he’s a hard-hat guy. He’s going to bring his lunch pail and go to work, so just to have him in any capacity would be very helpful.”

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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