Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions were back to work Monday in Allen Park after an early season bye week to regroup, reflect and get healthy heading into what will now be a 12-week stretch of games for them.
It hasn't been the start to the 2022 season Campbell or the Lions thought they'd find themselves in at 1-4, but there's still a lot of season left. There's no panic, but certainly a sense of urgency heading on the road to play the Cowboys this week
Campbell spoke to the media Monday like he does every week. Here are the key questions from that session:
Campbell led his press conference with the unfortunate announcement that second-year defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike is done for the year after undergoing back surgery.
"That's a little bit of a gut punch," Campbell said.
Surgery was a last resort, but after consulting multiple doctors, Campbell said this was the option Onwuzurike and the team had to go in.
What are the prospects of some of their other injured players returning this week?
Defensive lineman John Cominsky hasn't played since Week 2 because of a wrist injury. He was leading the team in QB pressures the first two weeks, and does a lot of the dirty work that frees up other players to make plays. Campbell said it looks promising Cominsky could be back Sunday in Dallas. That would be a big boost for the defense.
He also said rookie defensive lineman Josh Paschal and second-year cornerback Jerry Jacobs were trending in the right direction. It seems like a decision will be made on both of those players more towards the end of the week.
What was Campbell's message to the team Monday coming out of the bye?
The Lions are going to go back and do a lot of things they did in training camp in terms of some of their practice habits. They are going to practice more in pads and do more one-on-one periods. He said the message in the team meeting Monday morning was if they want a chance to win more on Sunday, it's got to start on Wednesday, Thursday and then Friday.
"We have to win the week, man," Campbell said. "We have to be on point for each practice and prepare to win. That's really what it is. We can't say we're going to do it. It's all about our preparation."
Why the change in practice to focus more on pads?
"I just feel like we have to get back to some of the things we were doing in camp," Campbell said. "We're not talking about going out there for two and a half hours, but man, we have to get back to some of the competitiveness and just good ol' one-on-one work. We have to."
What jumped out about watching Dallas' defense Sunday night?
The Lions hit the road to face the Cowboys Sunday, a team coming off just their second loss of the season to the undefeated Eagles on Sunday Night Football. Dallas can rush the passer, and they gave the Eagles everything they could handle, so Detroit's offense has another good task in front of them this week.
It's a talented Cowboys defense, led by linebacker Micah Parsons. They play multiple fronts, move players around and disguise their coverage well.
What kind of changes could continue to evolve on Detroit's defense coming out of the bye?
We saw a number of changes a week ago in New England before the bye. There were a couple of changes to personnel in the secondary, and Campbell said they simplified the scheme some to allow guys to play a little faster.
"We are changing some things," Campbell admitted Monday.
He opted not to go into detail as the preparations for Dallas are in full swing, but did say he, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and his defensive staff sat down over the bye and hatched out a good plan of action. Campbell said he feels good about some of the answers they came up with.
View photos from the Sewell Strong Foundation's Luau event at Ford Field.
What was Campbell's overall evaluation of the first five games?
Not enough wins, obviously.
But as Campbell took a step away from it, he said he actually felt better about where the team is at after six weeks because he feels they're closer to playing winning football than the record indicates.
"But we can't just say that," he said. "We can't just say we're close. We can't just be close, and so I think that's why everything goes back to – man, we have to hone in on all the little things that we do in walkthrough, man, our urgency the way we walk through.
"And then practices have got to be on point, and I think there's got to be central focus on that day and quit worrying about two days from now, Sunday – it doesn't matter. All that matters is the work that you put in on that day."
Will we see defensive lineman Romeo Okwara on the field this season?
That is the plan, according to Campbell. Okwara is progressing and doing a good job in his rehab.
Okwara was Detroit's sack leader two years ago. He suffered the Achilles injury Week 4 last season.
"There again, the Achilles just (heals) at a different rate, but he's doing a good job and you guys know Rome," Campbell said. "I mean he puts in the work now, but it's coming, it's just when he's ready, he'll be out there."
What about the injury status of wide receiver Jameson Williams and fullback Jason Cabinda?
Campbell doesn't expect either player back on the practice field this week.