Head coach Dan Campbell said Friday quarterback Jared Goff has looked good in his return to practice this week from a knee injury, and it's probable the Lions veteran quarterback finishes out the year on the field playing against the Green Bay Packers Sunday.
"He got back into rhythm Wednesday and I thought (Thursday) he looked even better," Campbell said. "We expect him to continue to improve today, so I think we'll see Goff this weekend."
Goff's played pretty well down the stretch. He's completed 67 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and just two interceptions since the bye.
Goff was officially listed as questionable on the team's Friday injury report.
LIONS LAYING THE FOUNDATION
The win/loss record certainly isn't what Campbell wants it to be heading into the final game of the regular season in his first season as head coach of the Detroit Lions. But going into this season the Lions knew patience was going to be a valuable virtue as they laid the foundation for Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes' vision for this team moving forward.
"When you talk about the foundation, I think a huge part of it is exactly what we've been going through, which is man, when things aren't going your way, you have to go back to work and you have to keep trying to improve," Campbell said Friday.
"You have to look at each day like it's a new day and learn from the old and push forward, and our guys have done that and I think that's a huge part of it, I really do. And when you collectively think that way – players, coaches, organization – you get better. You do become more resilient, that when you get things where you want them, and you have that spirit about you, I think it makes you tough to beat."
Campbell pointed to the young foundation that's been built through the course of the year with their first and second-year players getting so many reps. There's been mistakes made along the way, but the growth in some of these players through the adversity has been a real positive.
Second-year players like running back D'Andre Swift and guard Jonah Jackson look to be real foundational pieces. Outside linebacker Julian Okwara has shown some flashes after missing most of his rookie season due to injury.
The Lions were among the leaders in the NFL in terms of the amount of reps they got from their rookie class this season, and that's sped up their development. Rookies like tackle Penei Sewell, defensive end Levi Onwuzurike, defensive tackle Alim McNeill and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown have played most, if not all the season. Sewell, McNeill and St. Brown, along with undrafted rookies nickel cornerback AJ Parker and cornerback Jerry Jacobs (IR) look to be foundational pieces as well, and a lot of these first-year players should take huge leaps in their development heading into their second seasons.
"It's been hard at times, but it's also been fortunate," Campbell said of relying on so many young players this season due to injury, COVID-19 or just where the roster is at. "Not every team has been able to do what we've been able to do, which is play as many young guys as we have. Our draft picks, our rookie free agents, our second-year players ... that's actually been a silver lining. We've banked some valuable reps for these guys."
It's been Campbell's message to the players all year that going through some of the adversity they have this season helped lay a foundation to build on, and they'll be better off for having gone through it. It's sometimes hard looking at it from the outside to see a two-win team taking the right steps and moving in the right direction, but this Lions team looks to be in better shape with a lot more upside than their record might imply.
GOOD GUY AWARD
Veteran safety Tracy Walker was named the Good Guy Award winner by Detroit media and the Pro Football Writers Association. Detroit Free Press Lions beat write Dave Birkett told Walker he was the winner in a Zoom call Friday.
Walker is always willing to talk to the media about both football and social issues, and is always candid, honest and thoughtful in those conversations.
"I definitely appreciate that Dave," Walker said of hearing he was this year's recipient of the award. "I appreciate you all for accepting me for who I am and allowing me to be me. I'm always going to come up and be myself. That's a huge honor for me. I definitely appreciate that."
Starting tackles Taylor Decker and Sewell are both eligible to come off the Reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, and Campbell said it will really come down to how both players feel Saturday when they come in and get tested and if they have symptoms or not. Outside linebacker Austin Bryant is also on the list.
"We've been checking on them every day and they all have symptoms," Campbell said. "And so, we'll just have to see how they feel (Saturday). That will be their fifth day, and so they can come in and we can check them out, see where they're at, see if it's affected them physically at all and where their minds at.
"If they feel like they can go and they don't have the symptoms, then we're good to go. But otherwise, we won't really know until (Saturday) to be honest with you."