Running back Kerryon Johnson returned to the practice field Wednesday for the Lions.
Johnson was placed on IR with the designation to return after injuring his knee Week 7 against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Lions have 21 days from his first day of returning to practice to activate him to the roster, or decide to leave him on IR and end his season. He can play in a game as early as Week 16 in Denver.
With the Lions (3-8-1) already out of playoff contention, some might wonder why the Lions would bring the second-year player back at all.
Head coach Matt Patricia was asked that question Wednesday.
Johnson's season ended on IR last year and he's played in just 17 games total so far in two years.
"I mean, I think it's always important to play football and practice football, and do everything you can as much as possible, especially if you're a young player and especially if you're a player that's missed some time," Patricia said.
"I think it's great to get back out there and have that opportunity to get back to work while we have them because there is a lot of time during the season where we don't.
"So, we have a great opportunity in front of us to get better at football, and certainly from Kerryon's standpoint, that would be great for him to do that. We'll take full advantage of that as much as we can."
Bo Scarbrough has done a nice job in Johnson's absence, and is expected to start again Sunday in Minnesota. He's averaged 4.5 yards per carry through his first three games and needs 73 yards against the Vikings to pass Johnson as Detroit's leading rusher this season.
STRONG THIRD QUARTER FOR DAVIS
Three of linebacker Jarrad Davis' highest graded performances on the year by Pro Football Focus took place in the third quarter of the season over the last four games.
In Davis' first six games of the season after coming back from an ankle injury that kept him out of Detroit's first two games, the third-year linebacker had just 31 tackles.
In his last four contests, Davis has recorded 30 tackles (eight tackles in three games), and was Detroit's top graded defender by PFF twice.
"The third quarter of the season was his best quarter," Lions linebackers coach Al Golden said earlier this week. "Now he has to take the challenge to make the fourth quarter his best quarter."