- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Chris Greenwood has never played in an NFL game before. He's a Division III player who spent portions of this season with both the Lions and the Cowboys.
Now, on Monday Night Football, with the nation watching, he might not have no choice.
Injuries to Chris Houston and Darius Slay could force Detroit, in what will be its biggest game of the season considering playoff implications, to go with either second-year player Jonte Green, who has appeared in only seven games this season, or Greenwood opposite veteran Rashean Mathis.
“It’s sort of the conversations we’ve had with other guys on our roster,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “We’re confident in all 53 guys, and Jonte hasn’t had to play too much of a defensive role this year but he did last year and he’s a better player now than he was then.
“So whoever we put out there, we expect him to be able to get the job done.”
Even if they really have never had to do it before. Green played 20 defensive snaps this season and 381 last year, so there is a little experience there. Greenwood has had none.
But this could be their chance to play against the defending Super Bowl champions.
“Any athlete, any competitor is hungry to get on the field,” Greenwood said. “I’ve been waiting, and this could be my opportunity so I just have to take advantage of it when I get it.”
Detroit really has no choice otherwise. Slay is recovering from a torn meniscus. Houston has a toe injury that kept him out of practice the entire week, on top of a foot injury that has hampered him in other games this season.
So confident or not, big game or not, that is who Detroit likely has to go with.
“The one thing about both those guys is if you want to have a track meet, they’ll be there and they’ll be there at the end,” defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said. “They both can run. They are big, are long, have practiced well this week. Jonte Green started games for us last year and Chris, I’ve always liked him. He’s got a lot of tools. He’s smart. He’s really improved this week.”
Detroit needs both of them to have improved because there is one reality for the Lions.
“You put them out there,” Cunnigham said. “And have to go play.”
16hDana Wakiji / Special to ESPN.com