The Notebook

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NOTEBOOK: Walker returns to practice

It’s kind of crazy how things can change in the NFL in just a 24-hour news cycle.

After safety Tracy Walker missed his second practice of the week Thursday, and then rookie safety Will Harris showed up on Thursday’s practice report with a quad injury, it looked like safety depth was going to be a real issue for the Detroit Lions this week.

However during Friday's practice, Harris was out taking part in the open portion and running around fine.

Even better, Walker was back at practice for the first time since injuring his knee Week 8 against the Giants. He missed Detroit’s last two games, but it’s certainly a good sign that he’s close to returning to game action that he was able to practice Friday.

Like Harris, Walker looked good running around and was cutting on his knee just fine. It’s still unclear if Walker will be able to play Sunday, but what looked like a potential numbers problem at safety Thursday afternoon, turned out to be an even better than expected situation just 24 hours later.

They'll need all the defensive help they can get against a Dallas Cowboys team that comes in with the third ranked passing offense in the NFL and with a quarterback who has the second most 20-plus-yard completions (40) on the year and the third most 40-plus-yard completions (9).

SWING TACKLE

The job of a swing tackle in the NFL isn’t an easy one. Whereas Taylor Decker always knows he’s going to be at left tackle and can trust the footwork that goes along with playing on the left side and the opponent he’ll most likely face – the same thing with Rick Wagner on the right side – swing tackle Tyrell Crosby has to prepare for it all.

It’s his job to be the extra offensive tackle on gameday, and he has to know both positions.

Crosby had to start in place of Decker Week 2 against San Diego. He didn’t play too bad against a good Chargers front. He allowed three quarterback hurries, but no sacks or hits.

Crosby will likely be called upon to start once again this week, this time on the right side in place of Wagner, who missed practice all week with a concussion.

“Just with the position I’m in, throughout the week you really have to understand that at any time you could be going in,” Crosby said. “You have to just practice throughout the week like anytime you’re going in and that’s pretty much how I take each week.”

Crosby, a second-year tackle out of Oregon, had the benefit this week of getting first-team reps at right tackle.

“For me, personally, it doesn’t matter,” he said of playing right vs. left tackle. “Regardless of where I need to play I’m just going to go out and try my best at it.”

The swing tackle role isn’t an easy one, but Crosby’s handled it pretty well the last two seasons.

“Crosby I think does an excellent job at it to be honest with you because they are really – I don’t want to say two totally different positions, but they are pretty different – you know, right tackle and left tackle,” head coach Matt Patricia said.

“There are different – not only things that you have to deal with from a defensive perspective, the types of players you have to deal with. But, depending on the offensive system, some systems might be geared toward one side or the other, whether it’s the pass game, the run game, protections, things like that.

“Obviously, your ability to kind of play in space against really, really good defensive players and be able to do that out of different stances and different alignments and really be able to move your body in either direction at a pretty efficient level, it’s a pretty unique skill set from that standpoint. I think Crosby, he’s done a good job with it. He’s been ready to go on either side, which is important.”

BRYANT AND JOHNSON PROGRESS

The deadline to decide whether to activate rookie defensive end Austin Bryant to the 53-man active roster or leave him on IR is quickly approaching. Detroit’s 21-day window to decide ends next week.

“I would say with Austin, one of the things with him this week that I thought was really good for us and important was to get another good, hard week (of practice) in,” Patricia said.

The Lions increased Bryant’s reps this week and put him in some situations integrating him into normal game situations.

“We get a third day in a row with that today,” Patricia said. “See what that looks like, see how he feels, see how his body feels, and see how it responds. And, then go from there, but everything so far has looked pretty positive with that.”

The Lions can activate Bryant at any time before next week’s deadline.

Asked about running back Kerryon Johnson, Patricia said the second-year running back remains on schedule in his recovery from a knee injury that landed him on IR with the potential to return.

“We kind of get the updates on him as we go,” Patricia said of Johnson. “We’ll see where we’re at when the time is appropriate.”

View photos of Detroit Lions players helping pack military care packages at Humanetics headquarters Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2019 in Farmington Hills, Mich.

SPECIAL WEEKEND

In honor of Salute to Service month in the NFL and Detroit’s Salute to Service game against Dallas Sunday, the Lions have teamed up with TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) and invited 25 families from the Michigan area to come to the practice facility Saturday and hang out with the team and come to the game Sunday.

“We’re excited to have those families with us this weekend,” Patricia said. “We’ve got some tickets and will get them on the field, and (we’ll) get a chance to meet with them. They’re actually going to come over on Saturday to visit with the team, and we’ll get a great opportunity to meet them, listen to their stories, listen about their heroes – their loved ones that they’ve lost – and be able to be there for support to all of those families.”

This has always been a special cause for Patricia, who has deep connections to the military. He was nominated recently for the 2019 NFL Salute to Service Award.

“I just can’t thank those families enough for what they’ve sacrificed and what they go through,” he said. “I think it’s a great perspective for all of us to be very appreciative for what we have and what we’re allowed to do every single day.

“We’re excited to have those families come in and show our support for them and be appreciative of that. So, it’s a big game for us, but it’s a big game for us to reach out to those families and do the right thing.”

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