The Lions have had to deal with injuries and absences due to COVID-19 along their offensive line all season, so having to adjust on the fly heading into Sunday's regular-season finale vs. Green Bay is nothing new for them.
Starting left tackle Taylor Decker and starting right tackle Penei Sewell were placed on Reserve/COVID-19 this week, making their availability for Sunday a question mark. Both players could be back in time for Sunday with the league's new return-to-play protocols, but if not, because Detroit has played so many reserves this year, they feel good about their options.
"We're used to it," offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said of having to count on reserves to start. "They've all had the next-man-up mentality."
Matt Nelson has started eight games at right tackle and played over 600 snaps this year as a starter and swing tackle. He said he's been taking reps at both tackle spots this week.
"The next-man-in mentality," Nelson said. "You have to be ready for whatever – if they are back, if one of them is back. You have to be ready to play left, right, maybe the jumbo if they are both back. It's just kind of being able to do everything and yet focus on one thing at a time."
Will Holden has played 40 snaps in 13 games this year playing in the jumbo package. The Lions also have Dan Skipper (10 career games under his belt) and Darrin Paulo on their practice squad.
If there's one thing all the injuries the Lions have suffered upfront have shown them it's that they've developed pretty good depth there.
After returning last week from a four-game absence due to a sprained shoulder, the Lions eased second-year running back D’Andre Swift back into the fold last week in Seattle. Swift played 36 snaps, but only got six touches (four rushes for 32 yards and two catches for 7 yards).
Now with a game under his belt to knock the rust off, what should we expect from Swift Sunday vs. the Packers?
"Yeah, for the most part I knew I was going to be limited as far as the amount of carries and touches and things like that going into the game. That's kind of what the plan was," Swift said Thursday.
"I think it'll probably be the same (this week). I'm not sure as far as what it looks like on the note sheet, but just talking with the coaches throughout the week, it'll probably be the same process."
Swift said the shoulder feels good and he won't need any surgery in the offseason. As for Sunday, he wants to come out healthy and get the team's third victory of the year, his first while playing.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022.
Quarterback Tim Boyle was one of many free agents who signed with the Lions this offseason on one-year deals. Boyle's gotten an opportunity to start three games this year, the first three of his career, and he could be in line to start Sunday's season finale if Jared Goff's bone bruise doesn't allow him to play.
The Lions see a high ceiling with Boyle, and he said this week he'd love to return next year and continue working with this coaching staff. Boyle knows what it looks like to be on a good team having started his career with Green Bay, and he thinks the Lions are on the right path to building something special in Detroit with the leadership group in place.
"As a competitor definitely want to stick around because I know exactly where this team is going and I think the players who understand where it's going are licking their chops for an opportunity next year because Coach Campbell will have us dialed in," Boyle said.
"He'll have us ready to go and it'll be a special run. To answer your question, I'd love to come back to Detroit. I've built a lot of special relationships here. I love the area. The fans have been awesome to me. I don't get paid to make those decisions, but hopefully I put myself in enough of a position to have them consider me back because I'd love to come back."