In his third season with Detroit, Okwara has been on the team’s reserve/PUP list all season. He has been recovering from a torn Achilles for more than 13 months. Chark has been out since Week 3. The free agency pickup his now missed 19 games over the past two seasons.
While Chark returning stands to bolster a Lions attack that has seen its top skill-position players either miss time (Amon-Ra St. Brown, D’Andre Swift) or be traded (T.J. Hockenson), the Lions’ plans with Jameson Williams take big-picture precedence. Still sidelined from the ACL tear he suffered in last season’s national championship game, Williams remains in the picture for this season’s Lions. The team is hoping for Williams to return to practice after Thanksgiving, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets.
It would be a nice bonus for the rebuilding Lions to have Williams see game action this season, but that may not be a guarantee. The team has been cautious with the first-round pick. Previous reports indicated a midseason return to practice was in play, but the franchise has pushed back the timetable. Considering the current team’s status and Williams’ long-term importance to the organization, it is unsurprising his rehab run is approaching the 11-month mark.
The Lions having a St. Brown-Chark-Williams trio together for this season’s final games would represent a nice evaluation window for the future. St. Brown and Williams will almost certainly be 2023 Lions starters. It is unclear if Chark will be in the team’s post-2022 plans. The former Jaguars second-rounder, who signed a one-year deal worth $10MM in March, missed almost all of last season with a broken ankle. An injury to that same ankle has shelved Chark this year. After initially leaving him on their 53-man roster, the Lions moved Chark to IR. He has seven catches for 98 yards and a touchdown in his Detroit debut.
Okwara, 27, remains attached to the three-year, $37MM deal he signed in 2021. The Lions have rostered the elder Okwara since 2018, when they claimed him off waivers from the Giants. He has 10- and 7.5-sack seasons on his Detroit resume, with the 10-sack campaign in 2020 prompting the Lions to re-sign him. The seventh-year edge rusher has not yet seen extended run with younger brother Julian, whom the Lions drafted in the 2020 third round.
Both Chark and Romeo Okwara can be moved onto the Lions’ 53-man roster at any point over the next three weeks. Residing on Detroit’s reserve/NFI list, Williams would have the same timeline once he returns to practice. The Lions are in fairly good shape, activation-wise, holding five going into Week 11.