The Detroit Lions didn't do anything at the trade deadline to upgrade their pass rush, but the team made a move to bolster that aspect of their defense on Wednesday.
The Lions signed veteran edge rusher Bruce Irvin, 36, to their practice squad. Irvin has 55.5 career sacks over 11 seasons with five different teams. He made 10 starts and appeared in 11 games with 3.5 sacks last year for Seattle.
"Well, look, you can never have too many rushers in your building," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said Wednesday. "He still certainly shows that he's got a quick first step, he's got power and he can bend. We'll see where it is."
Detroit's 21 sacks through nine games are tied for 21st in the NFL. They've been held sack-less in two of their last three games and three times this season have failed to record a sack. They do have three games where they've recorded five-plus sacks.
Second-year defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson leads the Lions with 4.5 sacks. Julian Okwara (two sacks) is the Lions' only other edge player with at least two sacks. The Lions are hoping to get linebacker James Houston back from a fractured ankle suffered Week 2 sometime in late December.
The Lions host a Chicago Bears team this week that's tied for the sixth most sacks allowed (30) this season.
"For a guy like Bruce for example, he came in, gave us a little workout (Tuesday), enough to see where he's at," Campbell said. "He's got superhuman genes by the way. I mean this guy, he takes great care of himself, but he's not in football shape. He's in shape, but he's not in football shape. So, we've got to get him there first and then we'll see where it goes."
The Lions placed veteran guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai on injured reserve Monday with a back injury that's plagued him most of this season and that prevented him from seeing the field at all in 2022. Campbell said Wednesday it's probably unlikely we see Vatai on the field again this season because of the injury.
"No matter what, I told him, we want him around here, he wants to be around and he's still very much a part of us and what we are here," Campbell said of Vaitai.
The team signed long snapper Jake McQuaide from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. The team also released cornerback Anthony Averett and running back Devine Ozigbo from the practice squad and signed offensive lineman Michael Schofield and cornerback Kindle Vildor to the practice squad.
COUNTS FOR TWO
The Lions have won their last five division contests dating back to last season and will face their second division opponent this week after defeating Green Bay at Lambeau Field Week 4.
Campbell said division games count for two in his book because if the ultimate goal is to win the division the Lions have to win a majority of these five division games that remain on their schedule.
"This is like winning two games a little bit when you play these division games," Campbell said. "So, it's important, it's important. It's a conference game and more importantly, it's a division game."
The Lions traded for veteran wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones at the trade deadline, but he was inactive last week for their game against the Chargers with a rib injury. Given another week to get healthy and acclimated the hope is the Detroit native will be ready to make his Lions debut in front of friends and family on Sunday.
"He's already fit it," Lions receivers coach Antwaan Randle El said Wednesday. "He's good. He gets it and understands ball. Now it's just a matter of getting him reps. He's been real good with picking up the offense and regurgitating things back to me on splits and where he's supposed to be and how he's supposed to get there and give it to me in detail."
Those things take some time, as does building trust and a rapport with quarterback Jared Goff.
"He definitely makes us more dangerous than what we are," Randle El said.
The Bears get quarterback Justin Fields back this week after he's missed their last four contests with a thumb injury on his throwing hand.
From Weeks 1-6, before Fields injured the thumb, he ranked second among all NFL passers with six 20-plus yard touchdown passes. Only Goff had more during that stretch. Fields' 21 completions of 20-plus yards the first six games of the season were sixth best in the league.
"Look, he's stretching the ball down the field," Campbell said of Fields. "They're asking him to do some things in that pass game that they weren't necessarily doing before.
"They've got (DJ) Moore now. He's one of these premier guys. He's dangerous, he's versatile, he's strong, he's got run after catch, vast route tree, he's a weapon. Cole Kmet, his game is elevated. He's dangerous, big red zone target for them. Shoot, (Darnell) Mooney's still dangerous. I mean they've got weapons across the board."
Detroit's defense is right in the middle of the pack in the NFL allowing 29 completions of 20-plus yards but are coming off a game Sunday in Los Angeles against the Chargers where they allowed four such plays (38, 29, 28, 24) with two of those touchdowns.
The Lions will have to be better this week against an offense led by Fields who can beat you with his arm and his legs. Fields rushed for 279 combined yards in two games vs. Detroit last season.