The Lions are leading the NFL in scoring, having hit 35 points in three of their four games. They did so Sunday without Amon-Ra St. Brown and D’Andre Swift and have been playing without their No. 12 overall draft choice all season. As expected, Jameson Williams will not return to practice when first eligible. Dan Campbell confirmed the first-round pick is improving but added “several weeks” remain before practices enter the equation, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Detroit has a Week 6 bye. Campbell said it will be “a good time after” that point before the team considers Williams practicing.
An Ohio State recruit who broke through after transferring to Alabama in 2021, Williams is rehabbing the ACL tear he sustained in the national championship game. The previously mentioned midseason return, which would give Williams nearly 10 months of rehab, may not quite cover it. But the Lions are understandably playing the long game here. They are not exactly primed to contend in 2022 and could have Williams under team control through 2026, via the fifth-year option. Once Williams’ practice window is opened, the Lions have 21 days to activate him from their reserve/NFI list.
Here is the latest from the receiver scene:
Turf toe will pause Treylon Burks‘ rookie season. While Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes the Titans receiver is not set to undergo surgery, he will miss time (Twitter link). This absence is expected to extend beyond a couple of weeks, per Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed. That would open the door to an IR stint. Turf toe can be a nagging issue, and this ailment has cropped up after Burks cleared some offseason hurdles to put together a somewhat promising start. Burks bounced on and off the field during the offseason for the Titans, with an asthma issue contributing to his missing minicamp. Despite the first-round pick not starting Tennessee’s opener, he caught seven passes for 102 yards over his team’s first two games. The Arkansas alum will look to build on that upon return.
Staying with the 2022 receiver draft class, the Commanders are set to be without their first-round pick for a stretch. A hamstring injury will likely sideline Jahan Dotson for at least two games, Ron Rivera said. Dotson has proven to be a solid contributor early, catching three touchdown passes in four weeks.
The Broncos, who have now lost two skill-position starters to season-ending ACL tears, are planning to elevate K.J. Hamler‘s role. Nathaniel Hackett said the 2020 second-round pick is a player the team must involve more in its game plans, via the Denver Post’s Parker Gabriel (on Twitter). Although Hamler caught a well-placed 55-yard pass in Week 4 to set up a Denver touchdown, he played four snaps in Las Vegas. Considering the Broncos are without Tim Patrick for the season, Hamler not seeing much action surprises. But the Penn State-developed speedster suffered an ACL tear and a hip injury — one the Broncos feared was a Bo Jackson-type malady — in Week 3 last season. With the team holding him out in Week 2 because of his previous injury, Hamler is still attempting to surmount that setback. During this process, the Broncos have used Kendall Hinton as their No. 3 wideout.
Sterling Shepard confirmed (via The Athletic’s Dan Duggan, on Twitter) he did not suffer any damage beyond his ACL tear, though the seventh-year Giants wideout estimated his tear actually occurred two plays before he went down. Shepard, who will undergo surgery this month, agreed to a pay cut to stay this offseason — which followed a 2021 Achilles tear. This latest injury could put the former second-round pick’s career in jeopardy.
After beginning the season out of football, Michael Badgley could play for two NFC North teams in two weeks. Shortly after the Bears released the veteran kicker from their practice squad, he landed with the Lions, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. It is a practice squad deal.
Badgley fared well as the Bears’ Cairo Santos replacement Sunday, but with Santos back, Chicago went back to its one-kicker setup. The Lions have a similar need, with Austin Seibert battling a groin injury. Seibert joined Santos in missing Week 4. If Badgley kicks for the Lions on Sunday, he will be the team’s sixth kicker over the past two seasons.
The Lions used Dominik Eberle as their kicker against the Seahawks, but after Eberle missed two extra points in Detroit’s shootout loss, he is back in free agency. The Lions waived Eberle on Tuesday. Badgley is now in line to be Seibert’s Week 5 fill-in, should another replacement be necessary.
Badgley went 4-for-4 on field goals with the Bears, who did not score a touchdown in Sunday’s loss to the Giants. He spent most of last season with the Colts, joining the team after Rodrigo Blankenship‘s early-season injury. Badgley, 27, was 18-for-21 on field goals with Indianapolis. Week 4 marked Eberle’s second NFL game. The 26-year-old specialist made the only field goal he attempted but was 2 of 4 on PAT tries, which impacted the Lions in their 48-45 loss to the Seahawks. A Utah State product, Eberle kicked in one game with the Texans last year.
The Lions had Matt Prater installed as their kicker for several years, but instability has defined this job since the veteran signed with the Cardinals in 2021. Last season, four kickers — including Seibert — saw action for Detroit.
The Lions have shown a dramatic turnaround on offense this season, but their performance on the other side of the ball has led to them owning a 1-3 record. Defensive changes are coming, according to head coach Dan Campbell, but that will not include replacing defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.
Detroit leads the NFL in points and yards per game on offense one month into the 2022 campaign. However, they rank dead last defensively in both of those categories, as showcased most recently in Sunday’s 48-45 loss to the Seahawks. In response, Campbell, Glenn and the rest of the team’s defensive staff are eyeing alterations to their personnel packages and scheme (Twitter link via team reporter Tim Twentyman).
One of those could involve more diversity in the ways rookie Aidan Hutchinsonis deployed. This year’s No. 2 overall pick had a noteworthy second career game with three sacks, but has been held without one in the three other contests. He has six tackles for loss and eight QB pressures, but could be used in different alignments within the formation moving forward, Twentyman tweets.
Glenn, meanwhile, has been a rising name in the coaching ranks around the league. Detroit hired the former defensive back last season, amidst interest from several other teams. That was the case again this offseason, with the Saints eyeing a return to New Orleans for the 50-year-old to fill their head coaching vacancy representing one of many interviews he received. Despite his unit’s struggles early on, Campbell is backing Glenn to retain his position.
“I’ve had to do this before and I’m not afraid to make a hard decision,” Campbell said yesterday, via the Detroit Free Press. “If I really believed that was the cause of it and I don’t believe it is. I believe that Aaron Glenn was the right man for the job and he gives us our best hope, our best option, to run this defense. I just do.”
The Lions will look to improve defensively against another 1-3 squad, the Patriots, in Week 5. New England is facing a number of questions at quarterback, so that game could represent a useful opportunity to begin a turnaround.
DiNucci has some experience helping out in a tough spot from his time with the Cowboys two years ago when both starting quarterback Dak Prescott and backup Andy Dalton were injured. He got one opportunity to start against the Eagles before being benched for the winner of a Cooper Rush–Garrett Gilbert battle.
Fromm has had a bit of trouble finding the success he enjoyed in college at the NFL-level. Since being drafted in 2020, Fromm has served as a backup for the Bills and Giants. He got two starts while with the Giants that delivered uninspiring returns.
The Giants brought in offensive linemanSolomon Kindley for a visit today, according to Wilson. Kindley started much of his rookie season at right guard for the Dolphins, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2020. His workload decreased in Year 2 down to only two starts before he was eventually waived just prior to the 2022 regular season. New York is likely reaching out due to injuries that seventh-overall pick Evan Neal is dealing with. Kindley doesn’t have much experience at tackle, but he can provide the offensive line with a little more depth that can allow for some flexibility.
Swift started off the season with a bang. During the team’s season-opening loss to the Eagles, Swift carried the ball 15 times for 144 yards and a touchdown. Since then, some different ailments seem to have slowed Swift down as he’s only had 12 carries for 87 yards in the past two weeks while playing less than half of the team’s offensive snaps during that time frame. Head coach Dan Campbell has suggested that Swift could be out through the team’s bye week, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Swift would only miss the Lions’ next two games in that scenario.
Luckily for Detroit, they roster one of the league’s more experienced backup running backs in Jamaal Williams. In the past two games which saw a lower usage of Swift, Williams had 32 carries for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers are also while playing fewer than half of the team’s offensive snaps. With Swift out, Williams should have an opportunity to really take the running game over.
Many called for a breakout sophomore season for St. Brown and, so far, he has delivered. After the first three weeks of the season, St. Brown leads the team in receiving yards with 253. He also ranks in the top-ten of league receivers in receptions (6th with 23), receiving touchdowns (2nd with 3), and receiving yards per game (10th with 84.3). St. Brown has been a dominant favorite target for quarterback Jared Goff and his absence should be a cause for concern.
His absence is even more of a concern since his fellow starting receivers, DJ Chark and Josh Reynolds, were both limited in practice this week with ankle injuries. Both Chark and Reynolds are listed as questionable going into the weekend. With St. Brown out and rookie first-round pick Jameson Williams still awaiting his rookie debut while recovering from a torn ACL, losing Chark and Reynolds would leave Detroit with only Kalif Raymond and Quintez Cephus as healthy pass-catchers. In the unlikely event that Raymond and Cephus are the only two healthy receivers for Week 4, the Lions will likely be forced to use their two practice squad call-ups on any of Tom Kennedy, former USFL-star Maurice Alexander, and undrafted rookie Josh Johnson.
Regardless, of the availability of Chark and Reynolds, the losses of Swift and St. Brown are daunting. The two-game stretch that Detroit could be without Swift consists of two opponents with identical 1-2 records. It’s hard to say that those win-loss totals mean much this early in the season, but the Lions will certainly hope that this is a softer section of their schedule where they’ll potentially be without their lead rusher and receiver.