LIONS INSIDER

Raiola suspension upheld, Packers prep for Swanson

Posted Dec 23, 2014

The switch at center seems to be advantage Green Bay on Sunday, but Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has plenty of respect for the rookie Travis Swanson.

Travis Swanson has exactly 200 fewer starts in the NFL than veteran Dominic Raiola.

Swanson started three games for the injured Larry Warford at guard earlier this year, but was drafted in the third-round out of Arkansas in May to be the center of the future.

Raiola has 203 career starts at center, but he’ll miss Sunday’s game in Green Bay after his one-game suspension for stomping on the leg of Bears defensive tackle Ego Ferguson was upheld by the NFL in an appeals hearing on Tuesday.

Raiola claimed the incident was inadvertent. The NFL doesn’t agree.

The Lions will now most likely turn to Swanson, who'll make his first start at center in Raiola’s place.

Travis SwansonTravis Swanson (Photo: Gavin Smith / Detroit Lions)

That seems to be advantage Green Bay on Sunday, but Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has plenty of respect for the rookie Swanson.

"I'm sure time will tell (how much Raiola's loss will affect them)," McCarthy said in a conference call with Detroit reporters Tuesday. "I know our personnel department really liked Travis Swanson coming out, and he's also been playing in their (extra tackle) packages, so (he) looks definitely like a young player that has a future in front of him."

Swanson was a four-year starter at Arkansas and the Lions have utilized him often as an extra lineman/tight end in their jumbo packages. It’s the same way they used Riley Reiff, when he was a rookie in 2012, before Reiff took over the left tackle spot permanently for Jeff Backus in 2013.

“He’s a good football player,” McCarthy said. “His size, he looks like he’s definitely in control. I think he definitely fits with what they’re trying to do.

“I think the thing you have to really look at, and that’s what we have, you look at the number of snaps he’s played in their (extra tackle) packages and the fact that your back-up center is out there playing the tight end position, I think says a lot about him.”