Skip to main content

Lions' offense staying on track despite injuries

Injuries are a fact of life in the NFL, and the teams that can navigate them best thanks to their depth are typically in the hunt in November and December.

Despite a rash of injuries the Lions have suffered offensively through the first 10 weeks of the season, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, quarterback Jared Goff and the rest of the offense have been able to keep things running at a pretty high level.

The Lions have scored 30 or more points in four contests this year, tied for the most in the NFL.

Wide receiver DJ Chark has missed the team's last six games due to a left ankle injury. He just returned to practice this week after missing the last four games while on injured reserve.

Running back D’Andre Swift, who is one of Detroit's most explosive players and their top matchup weapon, has missed three games and been severely limited in a few others due to ankle and shoulder injuries.

Wide receiver Josh Reynolds has missed the last two contests with a back injury, and he was limited in a couple other games due to knee and ankle injuries. Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown missed a game with a high-ankle sprain and was limited in a couple others.

And yet through 10 weeks of football, the Lions rank ninth in points scored per game (24.3), sixth in total offense (371.2), 11th in rushing (129.8) and eighth in passing (241.4).

That's certainly a credit to Johnson and Goff, but also to the number of players who've been pressed into bigger roles than they're used to and have made plays.

"Yeah, we've had guys step up," Goff said this week. "I think I might have mentioned it last week, but I'm kind of used to that at this point. We've had a lot of guys kind of in and out of the lineup. You kind of stop asking who's up this week.

"You just kind of get used to whoever's going to be in there. We'll be ready and fill in, and you saw Tom Kennedy last week do a good job and making a big play there at the end, so we have confidence in those guys, but to be honest, whatever happens, happens. I'm somewhat used to there being just kind of a shuffled deck."

Kennedy had the big 44-yard reception on Detroit's final scoring drive that set up the game-winning Jamaal Williams 1-yard touchdown run two plays later. Kennedy has already nearly tripled his career-high snaps played from last season and is averaging 18.3 yards per reception on the year.

Williams has had to pick up a lot of the slack in the run game. He's already surpassed his career-high for yards (604), touchdowns (9) and average per rush (4.3).

Wide receiver Kalif Raymond has been pressed into three starts and has made some big catches for this team. He has 23 receptions for 302 yards (13.1 average). His 23 receptions are currently third most on the team.

The Lions traded tight end T.J. Hockenson at the trade deadline a couple weeks back, and the team's next three touchdowns following the trade all came from the tight end position with Shane Zylstra, James Mitchell and Brock Wright all catching one.

Detroit has also gotten several contributions upfront along the offensive line by players like Evan Brown, Dan Skipper and others.

View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Thursday, November 17, 2022.

"Last year we had those moments where we had to have those guys fill in and again, I've had a lot of reps with those guys, so there is some continuity there," Goff said of all the shuffling on offense.

New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll said this week that containing Detroit's offense is one of their biggest challenges Sunday in New York.

"They create explosive plays," Daboll told of the Lions' offense. "Goff plays at a high level; he's a very accurate passer downfield, intermediate, off the play action.

"And then their two runners have taken it the distance a few times. They're both a little bit different but both very good. They've scored 30 points four times. In six of their losses, four of them have been four points or less. The other one against the Cowboys it was 10-6 with 3:20 left. Explosive team. Good football team. We're going to need a good week of practice."

Related Content