Running back Kerryon Johnson last played Week 7 in a loss to the Vikings before a knee injury, which he confirmed Friday was a meniscus injury, landed him on IR with the potential to return.
That return date – Week 16 in Denver – is fast approaching. If the team decides to activate Johnson to the 53-man roster sometime next week, the Lions' second-year running back says he definitely wants to play the last couple games, even if they don't mean anything for the 3-9-1 Lions in terms of the postseason.
"For me, as stupid as some people might see it, I like to play, man," Johnson said in front of his locker Friday. "I did all this work in the offseason and did all this work in the summer and I didn't do it to play five games.
"Obviously my goal every year is to play a full season. Two seasons down and I'm 0-for-2, but getting to seven or eight (games played this year) is better than where I'm at right now. I just like to play. I like to be out there with these guys. I like for these guys to see me play and be able to count on me and it's just what I love to do."
Lions head coach Matt Patricia sounded like he wouldn't mind seeing more of his young running back to finish out the year.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019.
"I think there is value anytime you can play an NFL football game," Patricia said. "Especially young guys that need that experience, and just to be able to put yourself in a situation where maybe the last game you played is a shorter space between the next game you're going to play next season. I think that's always good.
"When you're in a situation where you haven't played maybe in several weeks, here toward the end of the season, if you can get back out there and play and get your mind set back in that frame, I think it just helps you push into next season a little bit better."
Johnson rushed for 308 yards on 98 carries (3.3 average) with a couple touchdowns before he was injured. That included a 125-yard performance Week 4 vs. Kansas City.
Bo Scarbrough's filled in for Johnson the last four weeks, and has done a nice job, rushing for 301 yards with a 4.2 average.
Seeing what a backfield of Johnson and Scarbrough could do the last couple weeks of the season does have value. It could answer some offseason question marks at the position and be a springboard for 2020.
Johnson finished last season on IR with a knee injury and has played in just 17 games total his first two years in the league.
"I thought he looked really good (Thursday)," Patricia said. "I thought he had a really good day for us in practice. I thought he ran hard. You know, I'm on him just to make sure he gets his conditioning and all that stuff. He hasn't played football in a while, but I liked his energy.
"I liked where he was at (Thursday) in practice. I thought it was a really good spot. We'll hopefully build on that (Friday), and then get into next week."
The more David Blough gets to start at quarterback for the Detroit Lions, the more he puts himself on film, and the more opponents have to look at to try to find and attack weaknesses.
After a solid debut on Thanksgiving against Chicago, Blough struggled a bit last week with some of the pressures and looks Mike Zimmer and the Vikings' defense threw at him.
Such is life in the NFL for a rookie quarterback.
"They'll definitely watch Minnesota and see what we struggled with, they'll watch Chicago and see what I struggled with, and that'll be in going forward," Blough said. "As a player, you can't make the same mistake twice. You get better and you learn from it, and you move on, and I think that's what I can work on going forward."
Blough will be looking to do just that Sunday against a Tampa Bay defense that's allowed the second most passing yards per game this season (278.8). The Bucs have also allowed the seventh most 20-plus-yard passes (49) and the fifth most passing plays of 40-plus yards (12)
"When we put the tape on, we look for things that we can go after, just like they do," Blough said. "They're sitting over there trying to stump us, while we're trying to do the same thing.
"I think that's what makes this level of the game so fun to be a part of, and some of the best minds, I like being around those guys. We're going to have a great plan and be ready to give them everything we've got."
Right tackle Rick Wagner (knee) and left guard Joe Dahl (back/knee) sat out practice again Friday, and their status for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay is very much in question.
If neither can play, second-year tackle Tyrell Crosby will likely get the start at right tackle and veteran Kenny Wiggins at left guard. The Lions have done a good job rotating both players into the action all year, so playing expanded roles will be nothing new to either player. Wiggins has played in 395 snaps this season and Crosby 223.
"We do feel that coming into the season we had some good guys in a rotation there, we had some good depth," Patricia said. "We were able to kind of get those guys some experience, and when you have situations like this, you feel good about those guys playing and having some of those snaps under their belt."