If the Detroit Lions are going to return to their winning ways Sunday hosting the Atlanta Falcons at Ford Field, they'll have to do so without a few key starters.
Offensively, Detroit will be without left tackle Taylor Decker (ankle), right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) and running back David Montgomery (thigh), as all three are inactive due to injury. Decker will miss his second straight contest with the ankle injury he suffered Week 1 in Kansas City. Penei Sewell moved over from right tackle to left tackle and Matt Nelson played right tackle last week against Seattle in Decker's absence.
Vaitai left last week's loss vs. Seattle in the second half with that knee injury. He didn't practice all week, but head coach Dan Campbell said Vaitai should avoid injured reserve. Veteran Graham Glasgow, who's made 91 career starts with Detroit and Denver over his eight-year career, is likely to fill in for Vaitai.
Montgomery also left last week's contest in the second half with a thigh bruise that will keep him out of the lineup today. Montgomery leads Detroit in carries (37), rushing yards (141) and rushing touchdowns (2) through the first two games of the season.
Rookie first-round pick Jahmyr Gibbs is expected to carry more of the load in the running game with Montgomery inactive. The No. 12 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft is averaging 4.2 yards per carry this season and has nine receptions in two games.
"Yeah, Gibby can do anything, so yeah, we'll see what all we ask him to do, but we feel very comfortable with him doing anything that our running backs need to do," Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said this week.
Defensively, starting safety Kerby Joseph is inactive after hurting his hip last week and sitting out practice all week. Detroit placed fellow safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson on IR this week with a torn pectoral muscle, which means Detroit will start two new safeties today against the Falcons. Veterans Tracy Walker and Ifeatu Melifonwu are next in line for the Lions at safety. Walker has played in 64 games and made 37 starts in six seasons.
Also inactive for Detroit are cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (knee/hamstring) and defensive lineman Brodric Martin, who is a healthy scratch. Veteran defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs is active and will make his 2023 debut after being inactive the first two weeks of the season.