Head Dan Campbell provided some roster and injury updates Thursday afternoon as the team continues to prepare for their last preseason game Sunday in Pittsburgh, as follows:
Jameson Williams rehab on schedule: The Lions placed the No. 12 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft on the Reserve/NFI list earlier this week, which means he'll have to sit out the first four games of the season as he continues to rehab a torn ACL suffered in January.
Campbell said Williams is progressing like he should and there are no setbacks. The move to Reserve/NFI just gives him an opportunity to strengthen his leg and make sure he can cut, accelerate and decelerate, and do all the things he'll need to do, and feel confident doing those things, before he gets out there and starts taking reps in practice.
Onwuzurike rehab update: Second-year defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike has been out of practice for a few weeks now as he rehabs a back/hip injury.
There have been no setbacks for Onwuzurike, but the rehab has progressed slower than the team had hoped.
"He's trending the right way," Campbell said. "But it's at a snail's pace."
The injury is getting better, according to Campbell, but if you were to twist his arm for a prediction on whether Onwuzurike would be available Week 1 vs. Philadelphia ... "I'm saying he's not available for Philly, that's me, but we'll see."
Backup QB competition: "What we need is, we need somebody to really take the reins here. Somebody needs to step up," Campbell said, referring to backup quarterbacks David Blough and Tim Boyle.
Campbell is looking for Blough or Boyle to separate themselves from the other this week in Pittsburgh. With starter Jared Goff not expected to play, Campbell said Boyle is likely going to start against the Steelers, and it's still being determined if both players will get reps with the first-team offense.
Campbell was also asked if there was a possibility another quarterback could be brought in before the season. He said it's a possibility with every position as the Lions are No. 2 on the waiver claim list.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Tuesday, August 23, 2022.
Jacobs close to returning: Campbell said the idea behind leaving second-year cornerback Jerry Jacobs on Active/PUP earlier this week was because they like the progress he's made in his ACL recovery and could be ready for some practice reps sooner rather than later. Players on the reserve list, like Williams, can't practice while on reserve status. Campbell said they'd like to sprinkle Jacobs into practice when he's ready to prepare him to get ready to play.
"Can we begin to get him some practice reps, just slowly implement him in what we're doing in practice?" Campbell said. "Whether it's scout team cards, or running our defense, just a couple of plays then he's off to the side. Continue his rehab, strengthening, and then maybe the next day he's able to get a little bit more. And then, hypothetically, he's ready Week 5, let's say.
"Well, shoot he's gotten practice for four weeks and he's ready. Whereas if you just did PUP, he's not up for four weeks and then first thing you do, you pull him off, he's not going to be ready to play, he hadn't gotten any practice reps."
Return jobs: As it stands right now, Campbell said wide receiver Kalif Raymond would be the team's punt returner Week 1. Raymond was fourth in the NFL with an 11.2-yard average returning punts last season. Campbell also said running back Godwin Igwebuike, who was tied for seventh with a 24.9-yard average last season, would be his kickoff return man.