Running back D’Andre Swift is trending toward playing Sunday as the Lions host the Miami Dolphins at Ford Field.
The Lions have been without their dynamic running back for the last three games due to a shoulder injury, but Swift has been limited since Week 1 when he suffered an ankle injury in in the second quarter in the loss to Philadelphia.
Swift had a week of full practice in Allen Park this week and head coach Dan Campbell said Friday Swift was trending toward playing.
Getting Swift back is a big boost for a Lions' offense that's struggled in their last two games after being so dynamic the first month of the season. Swift is averaging over 100 scrimmage yards per game this season with an 8.6-yard average per rush. He has the most yards before contact per rushing attempt (4.1) than anyone in the league. He's one of Detroit's top weapons, and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was certainly excited this week about getting him back.
Swift's return also coincides with the expected return of slot receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who was removed from last week's contest in Dallas by the league's new concussion protocol, though St. Brown didn't actually suffer a concussion. St. Brown was without the red no-contact jersey for Friday's practice.
With a healthy St. Brown in the slot and Swift in the backfield, this is a much more explosive and dynamic offense.
"Oh yeah, they're issues for defensive coordinators, so the quicker we can get both of those guys to full health, the better off we're going to be," Johnson said this week of Swift and St. Brown.
"We'll get back to where we started this season for sure because both of those guys you get the ball in their hands, and they're dynamite, so we'll use all the guys that are available as we've been doing, and continue to highlight what they do best."
GETTING IN SYNC
The return of Swift and St. Brown to practice this, plus wide receiver Josh Reynolds (knee) getting an extra day of practice after practicing only once heading into the Dallas game, will benefit quarterback Jared Goff, Campbell said Friday.
"When you've worked with guys long enough, particularly in that position, the quarterback, the receiver, look that's what takes. The run game's one thing, but the pass game, man, it takes a lot of work and you can get out of sync in a hurry, just with a few things.
"Goff's got a tremendous amount of trust in Reynolds and certainly, Amon-Ra. And so, it does help and everything's a little cleaner, certainly."
Goff has struggled in Detroit's last two contests after getting off to a strong start (11 touchdowns, three interceptions) the first four games of the year. Goff has turned the ball over six times with no touchdowns in the Lions' last two losses to New England and Dallas.
Starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai is unlikely to return from injured reserve in 2022, Campbell said Friday.
"He's doing well. I would say that (chances of playing this year) would be very slim to none as of right now," Campbell said. "But the surgery went well, and he's doing great. It's just that's one of those long-term (injuries)."
Vaitai injured his back in Detroit's third and final preseason game in Pittsburgh. The injury required surgery and the team placed him on IR before the start of the season.
The Lions have used a number of players to fill that spot, including Logan Stenberg, Dan Skipper and more recently Evan Brown.
Campbell said there is a chance guard Tommy Kraemer (back), who has also been on IR all season, does return this season, potentially in a few weeks.
"We're just gauging his progress right now," Campbell said of Kramer. "I could see him being back at some point here over the next few weeks possibly."
Cornerback Jerry Jacobs is back in the mix in Detroit's secondary after recovering from a torn ACL suffered last December. Jacobs made his 2022 debut in Dallas last week. Campbell said Jacobs is available to play anywhere in the secondary, possibly even some safety, as the Lions are currently short there with DeShon Elliott dealing with a finger injury and missing practice all week.