NOTEBOOK: Lions place Julian Okwara on IR; Austin Bryant (PUP) returns to practice

The Detroit Lions placed rookie defensive end Julian Okwara on injured reserve Wednesday with an undisclosed right leg injury.

Okwara played 30 snaps in four games, and recorded four pressures and four tackles. He has to stay on IR for at least three weeks.

"I don't think we'll put a timetable on Julian's situation," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said Wednesday. "We'll just kind of take it as it comes. But I would say it's just day-by-day at the moment, week-by-week. It'll be a couple weeks here, but we'll see what it looks like."

The Lions drafted Okwara in the third round after he suffered a broken leg last year at Notre Dame and slipped a bit in the draft. The Lions filled Okwara's roster spot by signing defensive back Chris Jones.

The Lions also announced that second-year defensive end Austin Bryant returned to practice Wednesday for the first time this season since being placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list to start the season with a pectoral injury.

A former fourth-round draft pick in 2019 out of Clemson, Bryant played in just four games as a rookie because of a couple different injuries. He's got a good size (6-6, 261) and the Lions coaches like his skill set on the edge, but he's got to find a way to shake the injures and become more available. The first step was returning to practice Wednesday. Now the Lions have three weeks to activate him or place him on the season-ending PUP list.

"I think what we're trying to do is just make sure we get a couple good reps here today for him and make sure we see what that looks like and give him some confidence and just get back into the rhythm of things for him," Patricia said of Bryant.

"Austin's a phenomenal guy every single day he studies, he learns, he listens, he works hard. I'm excited just to get him back on the field and let him get going and coach him and see where we're at.

"But certainly haven't done football stuff here in a long time, so we just have to be patient with that, too, and make sure that we go through the process to get him back out there in the right manner."

The Lions also signed tackle Dan Skipper and tight end Matt Sokol to their practice squad, and released practice squad punter Arryn Siposs.


When asked Tuesday what stood out about the Atlanta Falcons' offense, the first thing Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin mentioned was former MVP quarterback Matt Ryan, who is coming off a terrific performance last week vs. Minnesota. 

Ryan completed 30 of his 40 pass attempts for 371 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. His 136.6 passer rating was his best so far this season.

Under Ryan, the Falcons are averaging 291.2 net passing yards per game, which ranks second in the NFL.

Ryan gets to throw to wide receiver Julio Jones, who's missed two and a half games, but still has 23 catches for 350 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan also has wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who leads the team with 35 catches for 546 yards and five touchdowns and wide receiver Russell Gage, who has caught 25 passes for 289 yards and a touchdown.

That's quite the trio. 

"I don't know if I have a coverage that can handle all of these guys," Undlin said. "But, I would say that it comes down to trying to be effective and make the quarterback, Matt (Ryan) work pre-snap and post-snap. Do our best. Mix it up on them and try to make it hard for him. We all know it's going to be a tough cover for everybody on the field. We welcome that challenge."

And don't forget tight end Hayden Hurst, who has 19 catches for 227 yards and three touchdowns. Patricia said Hurst was the "sneaky" one of the bunch because he doesn't get a lot of the headlines, but he consistently shows up on tape.

View photos of the starters for the Atlanta Falcons.


Quarterback Matthew Stafford is preparing for his fifth game against the Atlanta Falcons, but this will be the first time in his NFL career he plays in the state of Georgia (preseason included).

The only road game Stafford has played against the Falcons was on Oct. 26, 2014, a last-second win in London.

After starring at the University of Georgia from 2006-08, Stafford will return to the state of Georgia 12 years later as one of the most prolific passers in NFL history.

"I'm excited to get back down to Georgia," Stafford said. "Obviously, spend a lot of time there in the offseason, and got a lot of friends and family, so that'll be great to play in front of them."


Speaking of Georgia guys, Lions rookie running back D’Andre Swift rushed 14 times for 116 yards and two scores in last week's win over Jacksonville. The first-year player out of Georgia is also Detroit's second-leading receiver through five games in terms of receptions with 16.

Swift currently leads all rookies with an average of 6.9 scrimmage yards per touch and is tied for the second most total touchdowns among rookies (4). His 6.08 rushing average in the fourth highest in the NFL among all running backs with 25-plus carries. He's off to a nice start.

Related Content