Injuries keep mounting for the Detroit Lions offensive line.
The Lions practiced without three starters along their offensive line for the second straight day Thursday. Left tackle Taylor Decker returned after missing Wednesday with a calf injury, but left guard Jonah Jackson (finger) joined center Frank Ragnow (groin/foot) and right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai (back; IR) as players sitting out Thursday.
Ragnow missed his second straight practice, while Jackson suffered the finger injury in practice Wednesday. It's unclear how serious the finger injury is. Head coach Dan Campbell will likely speak to that on Friday.
Vaitai is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery earlier this week. The team placed key reserve guard Tommy Kraemer on injured reserve Thursday to clear a roster spot for the newly signed Kayode Awosika.
Logan Stenberg is in line to make his second straight start at right guard, and the Lions could use Evan Brown at center or potentially practice squad lineman Dan Skipper at guard if Ragnow and Jackson cannot play. Skipper was taking some guard reps in the open portion of practice Thursday. There's always a chance the Lions push right tackle Penei Sewell to guard and play Matt Nelson at right tackle, but that doesn't appear to be the first option.
"Yeah, I think – Coach (Dan Campbell) kind of has this mantra, nobody handles adversity better than us," offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said Thursday. "Right now for us that's really upfront just because we've had some guys get dinged up a little bit and guys have stepped up and answered the bell.
"So, we don't shy away from it, certainly it makes things a little bit different for us over the course of the week because the comfort level up front is just a little bit off. So, we've got to continue to get reps and get on the same page. But coach (Hank) Fraley does a heck of a good job getting those backups ready to go. So, if they're in the game it's not generally going to influence much in terms of what we're running."
Running back D’Andre Swift had a terrific season debut last week, rushing for 144 yards and a touchdown while averaging 9.6 yards per carry. He's the league's third leading rusher after Week 1.
Swift totaled 175 scrimmage yards on just 18 touches and might be in for a heavier workload moving forward.
"He certainly had a hot start for us that we'd like to continue to build on," Johnson said. "We have a vision for how we want to use him. We might not want to share that publicly right now, but no he certainly is a big part of our offense."
Johnson said Swift, who is dealing with an ankle injury this week that doesn't appear to be serious, could be a little more versatile than what we saw in last week's loss to the Eagles. Swift was targeted just three times in the passing game and caught all three for 31 yards. Swift was leading all NFL running backs in receptions last season before a shoulder injury suffered on Thanksgiving forced him to miss time.
"I think it depends on the week, but certainly, I think everyone has said it that's talked to you guys. Everyone knows, players and coaches, when the ball is in his hands, it's usually a good thing for us," Johnson said.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022.
Could we be seeing more of Isaiah Buggs along Detroit's defensive front vs. Washington this week?
Buggs had the most impact (three tackles, one pass defended) among all of Detroit's interior defensive linemen. Starter Alim McNeil (one tackle) played the most snaps inside with 52 (68 percent), but Buggs played more snaps (40) than starter Michael Brockers (28).
"He did pop out on the tape, so we expect that player to be a huge part of what we're doing as far as going forward, and man, it is a – it's something to see him and Mack (McNeill) in a game at the same time," defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said Thursday. "That's a lot of beef on the interior now."
The Lions were under center 48 percent of the time Week 1. Interestingly, the NFL average was just 31 percent.