The Notebook

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NOTEBOOK: Lions expect Swift back this week

It's been over a month since we've seen Lions running back D'Andre Swift in action.

Swift has been sidelined by a sprained shoulder since Thanksgiving, but the Lions are not ending Swift's season early.

"The thought is we'll shut him down after Green Bay," head coach Dan Campbell said Wednesday.

Campbell said there's value in letting Swift play the final two games of the season, Sunday's Week 17 matchup in Seattle and the Week 18 finale at home against the Green Bay Packers.

"We look at it as it's an opportunity for him to grow," Campbell said. "He still has room to grow and we're not going to put him out there until he's healthy and we feel like he's going to be ready to go this week, and he's been wanting to go.

"We feel like we're in a place where, 'Let's go. Cut him loose and let him continue to grow and get better.' That way we go into next year and he's that much better for it."

Swift led the team in targets before getting injured, and has 56 receptions for 429 yards in the passing game. Rookie slot receiver Amon-Ra. St. Brown has really come on in Swift's absence the last month, so it will be interesting to see how the two play off each other this week.

"It's been a rough four weeks being away from the team," Swift said Wednesday. "But just seeing them get better each week, guys like Saint, everybody, the whole offense and team. I feel like we've been coming closer these last couple weeks. I'm just grateful to get back out there and play with them."

Swift has 555 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the year, averaging 4.0 yards per carry. He was red hot before the injury, rushing for 266 yards on 47 carries, with a 5.7 average per carry in his two games against Pittsburgh and Cleveland before the injury.

Swift said it's important for him to come back these last two weeks and finish the season strong.

"I feel like God put me on this earth to play football," he said. "I love the game so much, so any opportunity I have, whether it's two games, one game, losing record, winning record, I'm going to do my best to step my foot out there and play for my teammates and brothers.

"I just love the game so much. I'm excited to be able to get back and contribute any way possible these last two games."

ROOKIE RECEIVERS

Over the last month, St. Brown recorded 35 receptions, 350 yards and three touchdowns, which has shot him up towards the top of the rookie receiving rankings, and has really shown the value he's provided the Lions as a fourth-round draft pick.

St. Brown is second among rookie receivers with 74 receptions. Miami's Jaylen Waddle leads the league with 96 receptions. Waddle has been targeted 126 times this season, 28 more than St. Brown. Waddle averages 9.8 yards per reception. St. Brown averages 9.4.

With at least eight receptions Weeks 13-16, St. Brown joined Odell Beckham Jr. as the only two rookies in NFL history to have eight receptions in four straight games. Waddle also joined the duo during Monday Night Football Week 16.

Waddle was the No. 6 overall pick, one spot ahead of tackle Penei Sewell at No. 7. There were 105 players and 14 receivers drafted between Waddle and St. Brown, who was the 112th pick in the draft.

St. Brown and Waddle are the third and fourth rookies all-time with at least eight receptions and a touchdown catch in three-or-more games, joining Beckham and (five games in 2014) and Anquan Boldin (four games in 2003).

St. Brown has been great, and Lions wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El said Wednesday the ceiling continues to be very high for St. Brown moving forward.

LB DUO

Detroit's offense will have their hands full Sunday with Seattle's terrific linebacking duo of Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks, who have been tackle machines this season.

That's nothing new for Wagner, who has over 100 tackles in his career, but has been extra productive this year. He leads the league with a career-high 170 tackles through 15 games. He's just the third player since 2010 with 170-plus tackles (Vontaze Burfict in 2013 and Jerod Mayo in 2010).

Brooks ranks third in the league with 155 tackles and can become the first player since Zach Thomas in 2004 to record 10-plus tackles in eight straight games Sunday. The Seahawks use him in a lot different ways, and he brings a lot of versatility to their defense alongside Wagner.

"That combination, that duo, is pretty good," Campbell said. "Some of the better ones in the league."

REMEMBERING MADDEN

NFL coaching and broadcast legend John Madden passed away at the age of 85 on Tuesday. Campbell spoke about Madden in his Wednesday morning media session.

"The first time I was able to meet him ... he used to do the training camp circuit. When I was at Dallas, I met him," Campbell said. "He was over talking to (former Dallas Cowboys Head) Coach (Bill) Parcells and that was the first time I got to meet him. Of course, I was a huge fan of John Madden.

"That was pretty surreal. But obviously, a ton of respect and thoughts and prayers for his family. But, he's just one of those guys. He's an icon in our profession. To do it the way he did it, you win a Super Bowl, you're a successful coach and then you go on to – really, he's the name everybody remembers when you come into broadcasting. He's one of those elite announcers if you will. He's embedded into the NFL, and Monday night in particular."

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