Players never want to see an opportunity develop for them because of an injury to a teammate, but that's the situation Chris Lacy and Travis Fulgham find themselves in this week.
The Lions placed veteran wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. on IR with an ankle injury, which leaves the Lions in need of a third receiver to step up alongside Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola.
In step Lacy and Fulgham.
"Somebody is going to have an opportunity, and we'll put somebody else in there and give them that chance and see if they're able to make plays for us," Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said this week.
Lacy's been on the active roster for a few weeks now, but has played mostly on special teams. Fulgham, a sixth-round pick by the Lions this offseason, has spent the season on the practice squad and was just activated to the 53-man roster on Thursday.
"I've learned a lot about football and a lot about being a receiver," Fulgham said of his time on the practice squad. "I've been waiting for this for 13 weeks now, so I'm very excited."
Fulgham caught seven passes for 147 yards for the Lions in the preseason. At 6-foot-3, he plays mainly on the outside and has really good ball skills.
Lacy (6-3, 206) is also a big receiver, but he has a little more versatility than Fulgham. He's been Detroit main kick return man the last couple games. He's played just 11 snaps on offense this season in four games, and hasn't been targeted.
"Just an opportunity for me to get out there and show the league what I can do," Lacy said of the expectation of playing more on offense the final three weeks of the season.
"Set me up for next year, whether I'm here or I'm somewhere else. Get some good film."
This is a big opportunity for Lacy, Fulgham or whoever else the Lions might tap to make some plays in place of Jones these final three weeks.
"There are still things that he does need to continuing to improve on as any young rookie does, but sometimes the only way to do some of those things is to get your opportunity," Bevell said of Fulgham specifically.
"He's worked hard. He works on both scout teams all day. He runs all day, so he's in good shape that way. I'm sure if he was to get the chance, he'd be real excited about it."
LOST YEAR FOR HAND
The Lions officially ended defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand's 2019 season by placing him on IR Thursday, but in reality, Hand's second season never really got started.
He suffered an elbow injury the first week of training camp that kept him out most of August and the first six games of the season. He injured an ankle two weeks later, and that shut him down for another three games. He re-aggravated the injury on Thanksgiving, which has ended his season.
After a rookie campaign that saw the Lions' fourth-round pick named Pro Football Focus' top rookie interior lineman in 2018, Hand's 2019 season consisted of just three games with six tackles and 110 snaps played.
Hand ended last season on IR due to a knee injury.
BANGED UP BUNCH
Detroit's injury report to kick off Week 15 consisted of 11 players who either didn't practice or were limited. The Lions are a banged up unit right now, which head coach Matt Patricia was conscious of when he turned Wednesday's practice into a walkthrough.
"Obviously, coming off of a physical game on Sunday, so we'll give the guys another day of rest here, especially late in the season to try to get recovered and get ready to go for Sunday," Patricia said Wednesday.
The Lions were back on the field for a full practice Thursday, but are still very much on the mend.
Six starters missed practice and three others were limited. Among those missing practice were right tackle Rick Wagner (knee), left guard Joe Dahl (back/knee) and running back Bo Scarbrough (ribs). Linebacker Christian Jones (shoulder) and defensive end Austin Bryant (hip) were among those limited.
Linebacker Devon Kennard is Detroit's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. The award is one of the league's prestigious honors as it recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.
"To me, the Walter Payton Man of The Year Award stands for excellence on and off the field," said Kennard. "As I reflect on every player who has ever won this award I see one common thread; a group of men who are exceptional football players, but at some point made the realization that real success is helping others succeed and grow.
"Their life's work reflects this realization. Youth mentorship, education and literacy have been a passion of mine since entering the NFL six years ago and I'm excited to shed light on the amazing organizations I have had the honor of working with here in Detroit. I want to personally thank my family, Mrs. Ford, Coach Patricia, all my teammates and the community relations department here in Detroit."
Since joining the Lions in 2018, Kennard has worked closely with the Midnight Golf Program in Detroit and created his own "Devon Kennard Scholarship Fund" in 2019 for students involved with the organization. The Midnight Golf Program helps under-served youth transition from high school to college and into a professional career.
Kennard's also been instrumental in helping launch the team's new player-driven social justice initiative, Detroit Lions Inspire Change.