Dan Campbell: Detroit Lions S DeShon Elliott could return vs. Green Bay Packers

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions could be getting a key defensive player back in their lineup for Sunday’s must-win game against the Green Bay Packers.

Lions coach Dan Campbell said Monday safety DeShon Elliott hopes to return after a two-game absence due to a dislocated shoulder.

“Look, he wants to go,” Campbell said. “He’s improving and we’re going to see what he looks like. Hopefully we’ll know a lot more tomorrow, but let him hit some sleds, see how the shoulder feels and then if that’s good go into practice and just see how it goes, really. But I know he wants to go and I know he’s improving.”

Elliott injured his left shoulder on a diving tackle attempt in the third quarter of a Week 15 win over the New York Jets. He sat out the Lions’ Christmas eve loss to the Carolina Panthers, when the Lions allowed a season-high 320 yards rushing, and did not play in last week’s win over the Chicago Bears.

Ifeatu Melifonwu, a second-year defensive back who moved from cornerback to safety this summer, has earned mixed reviews in two starts in Elliott’s absence.

“He was better” against the Bears, Campbell said. “I thought he answered the bell. I thought he came in, I think that some of the things he was asked to do was a little different than last week, just the nature of the opponent. However I did, I thought he answered the bell. I thought he was better. I thought he tried to play more aggressive. Had a pretty big fourth down stop, that was good to see. So yeah, it was encouraging.”

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Elliott has a career-high 90 tackles, including five for loss, in 13 games. He’s the Lions’ second-leading tackler behind Alex Anzalone.

The Lions (8-8) need a win Sunday and a loss by the Seattle Seahawks (8-8) against the Los Angeles Rams to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

The Packers (8-8) can earn their fourth straight playoff appearance with a win.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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