Allen Park — After spraining his ankle in the season opener, and briefly landing on the shelf with a shoulder injury suffered in Week 3, Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift had struggled to recapture his early-season role in the offense.
Swift racked up 175 yards on 18 touches in that opener, but in five appearances since returning to action at the end of October, he had amassed 170 yards from scrimmage and averaged fewer than eight touches. That’s right, he had more production in Week 1 than the previous five games.
But on Sunday, the Lions finally removed the bubble wrap. Swift matched his opportunities from the opener, racking up 14 carries to go with four receptions, contributing 111 yards and a touchdown in Detroit’s blowout win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“I would say this is the best he’s looked in practice,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “We could tell on Wednesday that he had a spring in his step, he was feeling better. Just some of the things, the way he moved, everything, and then just every day he looked better, felt better. We have said all along, the better he feels and where he feels like he can open it up and go, then he’s going to get more.”
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Swift nearing full strength fits well with an offense that’s getting healthy just in time for a stretch run. Receiver DJ Chark, who missed six games with an ankle injury, had his best game of the season against Jacksonville, hauling in five passes for 98 yards. And Josh Reynolds, who missed three weeks with a back issue, chipped in three receptions in the victory.
“We were joking about it earlier this week, we had our horses back,” Lions quarterback Jared Goff said. “And you could feel it on Wednesday with Josh and DJ, and obviously Swift with his progression now, where he’s at now. Those guys make a huge difference. They’re some of our best players and getting them on the field, and getting them the ball typically results in good things and makes my life a lot easier when they’re on the field.”