Detroit Lions: NFL injury wire

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- He missed practices last season as a way to try and preserve himself, as a way to make sure that when things mattered on Sundays, he would be able to participate with the rest of the Detroit Lions.

Calvin Johnson, though, would rather not watch practices from the sidelines. Not during training camp, and not during the regular season, either. So he said even though he’s healthy now, there’s no plan that he knows of to rest him during game weeks.

Johnson
“We’re going to do what coach wants us to do, but a lot of that was due to some injuries, you know,” Johnson said Tuesday. “So really, I’d really prefer to be out here and practicing and getting the timing down.”

That hasn’t been an issue for Johnson so far this preseason. While he only played in one game -- Week 3 against Jacksonville -- he participated in almost every practice and often made the play of the practice.

He continued that into the first game week, evidenced by the image of him grabbing a towel midway through his eight-minute media chat to wipe off his face. He even joked before he started talking he didn’t want to move too much to make sure sweat didn’t flop around on any reporters.

That Johnson is working as hard as he typically does is no surprise, though. Not when his stated goal -- even when asked about individual accomplishments -- always goes back to wanting to finally win.

Obviously a healthy Calvin Johnson adds greatly to the Lions' chances of that.

“Body feels good. It actually felt great to get out there a couple weeks ago and get some work in,” Johnson said. “Got a good little couple drives in. But body feels good, felt good today and got some good work out here. Pushing each other. We’re receivers so we run a lot. We’ll be in shape.”
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- James Ihedigbo hasn’t played in two weeks. He didn’t even travel to Buffalo for the Detroit Lions' preseason finale against the Bills.

If you listen to the Lions’ starting safety, though, he is not concerned.

Ihedigbo
“I’m just resting,” Ihedigbo said Monday. “Getting ready for Monday night. That’s what really the mindset going in is.”

It’s a curious statement, because Lions coach Jim Caldwell indicated after Thursday’s preseason finale that Ihedigbo had stayed behind to receive treatment. Typically, that indicates an injury of some sort that needs to be healed.

Prior to practice Monday, Caldwell declined to give an update on Ihedigbo and said to wait for the injury report, the first one being released Thursday.

Ihedigbo said he was told by the Lions’ coaching staff to remain behind in Michigan instead of heading to New York.

“I just do what I’m told and that’s what was told to me,” Ihedigbo said. “And that was the best thing for our team and that’s what I do, whatever the best thing for my team.”

Ihedigbo is expected to be a starter at strong safety opposite Glover Quin. If Ihedigbo can’t play for some reason, either rookie James Couplin or veterans Don Carey or Isa Abdul-Quddus will pick up the start.

Abdul-Quddus started for Ihedigbo against Buffalo.

As of now, Ihedigbo insists he’ll be ready to play against the Giants.

“Yeah, of course,” Ihedigbo said. “It’s Monday night.”
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell does not know when he'll get Ezekiel Ansah on the field for the first time this fall.

He doesn't have a timetable for when he'll return, either.

Ansah
"There is none. It is whenever the Lord says that he's healthy and healed," Caldwell said Sunday. "And the medical staff will take a look at it after the Lord's decree and then we'll see what goes on after that."

Ansah, who led all rookies with eight sacks last season, did not practice during the spring as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery. He is one of three players, along with wide receivers Golden Tate and TJ Jones, to be moved to the active physically unable to perform list to start camp.

Those three players can be removed from the list and moved to the active roster at any point during camp.

Caldwell was not surprised by those three players not being ready to participate by the start of camp as all three are dealing with shoulder issues. Jones had surgery on his shoulder earlier this summer and Tate injured his shoulder during spring workouts.

Caldwell did say, though, he has been "pleased with" the healing progress of the players thus far.

The biggest concern of the three might by Ansah because Tate and Jones were at least available for portions of spring workouts. However, Caldwell isn't focused on that right now.

"One of the things I learned early on in coaching, I coach who shows up and instruct our staff to do the exact same thing. I cannot worry about how quickly the Lord allows someone to heal," Caldwell said. "I've got to do our business and at that point in time, when he gets healthy and ready to go, he'll be ready.

"Until then, whoever is out there lined up is going to get coached and coached hard and ready to play for us and win games. That's how we look at it and he's coming along and making great progress and doing everything he can to get there and I'm sure he will in a reasonable amount of time."

With Ansah out, it is likely either second-year player Devin Taylor or veteran Darryl Tapp will work with the first team when training camp officially opens Monday. Kris Durham or Kevin Ogletree will likely fill in for Tate until he returns from his shoulder injury as well.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- As he was walking out of the Detroit Lions' locker room for the final time in 2013, linebacker Ashlee Palmer said he might have to have his left ankle operated on in the offseason.

Palmer injured the ankle early this season -- skipping some Thursday practices to rest it the first half of the year -- and said he is planning to get an MRI to see what damage might have been done.

“We’ll see,” Palmer said. “Not really sure. Probably just need a scope, get it cleaned out.”

He said plans on meeting with doctors to see if “it is necessary or not.”

Palmer played in every game this season for Detroit, making 27 tackles and recovering one fumble. The fifth-year pro has 78 tackles in his career after joining the Bills as an undrafted free agent in 2009.

He has played the last four seasons with the Lions and is under contract with the team for 2014.

In other injury news, tackle LaAdrian Waddle should not need any surgery on the left ankle he injured during the Lions' home finale against the New York Giants on Dec. 22.

Lions without Johnson, three corners

December, 29, 2013
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Detroit Lions made the correct call.

Johnson
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is among the seven players inactive for the Lions, ending his season with 84 catches for 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns. The receptions and yards are his lowest totals since the 2010 season.

His 12 touchdowns more than doubled the five he had a season ago.

In Johnson's place, the Lions will start receiver Kevin Ogletree. Ogletree has 16 catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns this season, split between Tampa Bay and Detroit.

No Johnson is only part of Detroit's issues Sunday. Three of top five Lions cornerbacks are out as Chris Houston, Bill Bentley and Jonte Green are all inactive. Rashean Mathis and Darius Slay, who is coming off a torn meniscus, will start and Chris Greenwood, who played his first NFL game earlier this month, will be the top backup.

Also inactive for Detroit is its starting right tackle, LaAdrian Waddle, and he'll be replaced by Jason Fox. Dylan Gandy is the other inactive on the offensive line. Guard Rodney Austin will be active for the first time in his career.

And this also ends Kellen Moore's second season with the Lions -- and second season where he has yet to play in a game.
After not practicing all week and being limited against the New York Giants, wide receiver Calvin Johnson is officially listed as questionable for Sunday's season finale against Minnesota.

Johnson and Detroit coach Jim Schwartz have both indicated it will be a group decision and conversation as to whether or not he plays Sunday.

The Lions will definitively be without two players on Sunday: Right tackle LaAdrian Waddle (ankle) and defensive end Israel Idonije (neck).

As an unrestricted free agent, this could be the end of Idonije's time with the Lions. He was placed on injured reserve Friday afternoon and the team called up defensive back Akwasi Owusu-Ansah to the 53-man roster, the second man they have called up from the team's practice squad this week.

Cornerbacks Bill Bentley (concussion) and Chris Houston (toe) are doubtful, which means Detroit's cornerbacks will likely be Rashean Mathis and either Darius Slay or Jonte Green. Green is officially listed as questionable with a shoulder injury and Slay is probable while recovering from a torn meniscus. Slay practiced fully Friday.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Calvin Johnson missed practice for the third straight day for the Detroit Lions, lending credence to the theory he won't play in Sunday's season finale against Minnesota.

He was one of seven Lions to miss the final practice of the season, joining linebacker DeAndre Levy, cornerbacks Jonte Green and Bill Bentley, safety Louis Delmas, defensive lineman Israel Idonije and offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle.

Offensive lineman Dylan Gandy returned to practice, as did cornerback Chris Houston and safety John Wendling.

Seven miss practice for the Lions

December, 26, 2013
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions were without four starters at practice Thursday, including star wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who continues to battle knee problems.

Also missing were cornerbacks Bill Bentley (concussion) and Chris Houston (toe/illness), offensive linemen Dylan Gandy (illness) and LaAdrian Waddle (ankle), safety John Wendling (ankle) and linebacker DeAndre Levy (foot).

Five players were limited in practice: running back Joique Bell (knee), cornerbacks Jonte Green (shoulder) and Darius Slay (knee), safety Louis Delmas (knee) and defensive end Israel Idonije (knee).

Green is the only new name on the injury report; he was spotted with a giant bag of ice on his shoulder following practice.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Calvin Johnson wanted nothing to do with talking about his body on Thursday afternoon.

Johnson
Not how it feels. Not what might have to be done to it in the offseason. Not if he’ll be out there playing for the Detroit Lions one last time this season Sunday afternoon against Minnesota.

No, the Lions’ top offensive player did not want to answer any of those questions.

It is kind of understandable, as Johnson has heard questions about his ailing knees for almost the entire season, ever since he initially tweaked a knee against Chicago in Week 4 and then missed the following week’s game at Green Bay.

As for this Sunday, in what will be a meaningless game from the perspective of the playoffs and the Lions’ season, he said the decision on whether he’ll play will be made later in the week.

“Every game’s important,” Johnson said. “You always want to finish strong, finish on the right note without leaving anything out there on the field, I guess you can say.

“We’ll make that decision when the time comes.”

Johnson said the decision will be made in discussions between himself and the doctors and coaches. He declined to comment whether or not playing Sunday could risk hurting himself more, mostly because it would then delve into the specific injury he won’t discuss.

When he was asked about surgery, he then shut down questions about whatever injuries he might have.

“Like I say, man,” Johnson said. “As far as injuries go, I’m not going to talk about that no more.”

Johnson has 84 receptions for 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns this season on 153 targets. His 17.8 yards per catch is the highest of his career.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson missed his second day of practice this week, as did linebacker DeAndre Levy.

Johnson
Johnson and Levy were two of eight Detroit players to miss practice Thursday. Joining them were cornerbacks Chris Houston (toe) and Bill Bentley (head), safety John Wendling (ankle), returner Micheal Spurlock (theoretically still traveling to Detroit) and offensive linemen LaAdrian Waddle (ankle) and Dylan Gandy (unknown).

Some number changes, too. Carlin Isles, a rugby player signed to the practice squad Thursday, is wearing No. 16. Cody Wilson, a practice squad receiver, is now wearing No. 1, presumably opening up No. 15 for Spurlock's return.

Also, the Lions sent Dorin Dickerson (head) to injured reserve and promoted Matt Veldman to the 53-man roster for Sunday. This gives Detroit two tight ends -- Veldman and Joseph Fauria -- for when the Lions face the Vikings.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions practiced on Christmas Day with nine players out, including wide receiver Calvin Johnson (knee) and running back Joique Bell (knee).

Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said the Lions might not know about Johnson's availability for the season finale against the Minnesota Vikings until Sunday.

Joining them were cornerback Bill Bentley (concussion), tight end Dorin Dickerson (concussion), linebacker DeAndre Levy (foot), safeties John Wendling (ankle) and Louis Delmas (knee) and tackle LaAdrian Waddle (ankle).

Schwartz said neither Bentley nor Dickerson had been cleared from concussion protocol after both suffered them Sunday against New York. Bentley, though, has progressed more than Dickerson.

Cornerbacks Chris Houston (toe) and Darius Slay (knee), along with defensive end Israel Idonije (neck) were limited for the Lions. Cornerback Rashean Mathis, who had the flu last week, practiced in full.
DETROIT -- Detroit may have star receiver Calvin Johnson available for Sunday's game against the New York Giants, but the Lions will be without both their starting cornerbacks.

Rashean Mathis (illness) and Chris Houston (toe) are both inactive for Detroit on Sunday, leaving the Lions extremely short at corner. Bill Bentley, the team's usual nickel back, and Jonte Green will be the presumed starters at corner.

Chris Greenwood is the team's top reserve and Darius Slay, who was listed as doubtful heading into the game as he recovers from a torn meniscus in his right knee, is also active.

The Lions' other inactives are expected: quarterback Kellen Moore; running back Mikel Leshoure; offensive guards Leroy Harris and Rodney Austin and tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who was ruled out Friday.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- It might be time for the Detroit Lions to be concerned about the availability of linebacker DeAndre Levy and tight end Brandon Pettigrew on Sunday against the New York Giants.

Both Levy (foot) and Pettigrew (ankle) missed their third practice this week.

If Levy doesn't play, Rocky McIntosh would likely see a majority of his snaps. If Pettigrew can't go, a host of players would take his place, as I wrote about Thursday.

They were two of five Lions to miss practice Friday. Louis Delmas (knee), Rashean Mathis (illness) and Darius Slay (knee) also were out. For Delmas, this is a typical maintenance day. Mathis also missed Thursday with an illness.

Slay actually was at practice with a sleeve on his right knee, just no helmet. He even participated in some light drill work with the other defensive backs.

Both Calvin Johnson and John Wendling were back at practice Friday.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Brandon Pettigrew hobbled through the Detroit Lions' locker room on Wednesday on crutches. On Thursday, he sat out the second straight day with an ankle injury.

And Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said Wednesday that of some of the players who missed practice because of injury that day, Pettigrew was the most concerning. So there is at least a decent chance the Lions’ top tight end doesn’t play Sunday against the New York Giants.

That can leave Detroit in an interesting predicament. Neither of the other tight ends on the roster, Joseph Fauria or Dorin Dickerson, present the full blocking-and-catching arsenal that Pettigrew does.

[+] EnlargeJoseph Fauria
AP Photo/David RichardThe Detroit Lions will turn to Joseph Fauria, 80, and a host of others if starting tight end Brandon Pettigrew can't play.
Much of what the Lions do, especially in the run game, is aided by Pettigrew’s ability as a blocker, so it could leave Detroit with two potential conundrums. Either use Fauria or Dickerson in blocking roles, or bring in an extra offensive lineman, perhaps giving away what the Lions are going to do on a specific play.

“We’re going to have some scenarios there. We’ve got to wait until we get the word on Brandon,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “If anyone’s going to answer the bell, it’s going to be him. So Saturday night we’ll figure that out.

“The contingency is to have the next two guys ready to go. Joe’s been in the system all year. Dorin has done a really nice job of picking up what we’re doing. We’ve done extra tackle stuff before, so that’s not new to us.”

The Lions have seen what Fauria and Dickerson have been able to do this season. More and more each week, Fauria has played next to offensive linemen with his hand on the ground, showing signs of becoming an improved blocker.

But even he’ll admit he isn’t fully there yet toward the end of his rookie season. And Dickerson only plays a handful of snaps as it is, so it is unknown how effective he can be in that role.

So that leaves the offensive linemen -- specifically Dylan Gandy and possibly Rodney Austin -- as the sixth offensive linemen. When Tony Scheffler was injured this season, the Lions discussed using Gandy as an emergency tight end/sixth offensive lineman.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” Gandy said. “You just get ready for whatever comes and you take advantage of any opportunity you get.”

For Austin, that could be a first chance. He was signed off the practice squad last month and has yet to be active in a game. But he has consistently worked on his hands, including after practice Thursday.

This is not new for Austin. He did this last season and throughout OTAs in the offseason. He just had not done it as frequently during the regular season.

“Just trying to get back to it,” Austin said Thursday. “Working on my hands. The more you can do, you know.”

Interestingly, Austin seemed more comfortable with his left hand instead of his right hand. This is because he said while his mother made him write with his right hand when he was a kid, he thinks he is a natural lefty.

He said she just didn’t like to see him writing with his left, so he learned with his right.

But if he were to be called on to be an extra lineman or even run routes, Austin would be comfortable with that. After all, it would be a way on the field for a guy who has yet to be active for a game this season.

“I would love that. I run pretty good routes,” Austin said. “I’m pretty quick for a big man. My coach, he prides himself on working on my footwork and getting me right. (Jeremiah Washburn) and (Terry Heffernan), they been getting my footwork down.

“Footwork in one drill can only help you in any other drill, making sure you’re doing the right things with every part of your body that you’re supposed to just makes you a better player overall.”

While having options is nice, Detroit also knows it would be at a loss without Pettigrew, who has been a comfortable target for quarterback Matthew Stafford and a more-than-capable blocker.

Pettigrew has 41 catches for 416 yards this season and, according to Pro Football Focus, has only allowed one sack of Stafford this season.

“Brandon is a good, veteran player and a multidimensional player,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. “He’s done a really nice job for us. I think what you would see is a lot of different people replacing parts of what he did, rather than one person stepping into his role.

“It is still too son to really have a good handle on that. We’ll be ready for a lot of different contingencies, just like a lot of other injuries that we have.”

At a thin position group, though, the Lions will have to have more plans than most.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- More than any other player missing practice Thursday, Rashean Mathis was perhaps the most curious.

He practiced Wednesday. He talked with the media. He didn't show signs of injury. Here's why: Mathis had an illness, so he was not at practice. That probably bodes well for his return for Sunday's game against the New York Giants.

Mathis joined wide receiver Calvin Johnson (knee), tight end Brandon Pettigrew (ankle), linebacker DeAndre Levy (foot), cornerback Darius Slay (knee) and safety John Wendling (ankle) as Lions who missed practice Thursday.

Safety Louis Delmas (knee), cornerback Chris Houston (toe) and punter Sam Martin (right groin) were all limited.

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