The Detroit Lions' injury report carries as much intrigue as any Week 1 storyline in the NFC North. Namely, it's not clear whether half of their presumed starting secondary will be available for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams. It's also not clear if it will matter.
Safety Louis Delmas (knee) hasn't practiced since July 31, and cornerback Chris Houston has been sidelined by a sprained ankle suffered Aug. 25. The Lions have made two emergency moves to bolster depth, trading for deposed Washington Redskins nickelback Kevin Barnes and signing free-agent cornerback Drayton Florence, and it's possible that Florence could join rookie Bill Bentley and Jacob Lacey in the Lions' nickel defense Sunday.
With that said, the Rams will hardly bring the NFL's most explosive offense Sunday to Ford Field. New offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is trying to turn around a scheme that scored an NFL-low 193 points last season, the third-fewest points an NFL team as scored in the past 10 years. And while quarterback Sam Bradford threw five touchdown passes without an interception during the preseason, most observers expect the Rams' offense to revolve around tailback Steven Jackson.
If so, the Lions will have some protection for a starting unit that could include Bentley and Florence, along with safeties Erik Coleman and John Wendling. Florence is the only player among that group who started more than one NFL game in 2011, and at 31 it's fair to question how much he has left. The Denver Broncos were so convinced he couldn't help them this season that they ate his $1.5 million signing bonus and released him last week.
I reached out to Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc., who thinks Florence has slowed down considerably from the player who was once a speedster and has "very little" left in his proverbial tank. Williamson, however, noted that Florence's size (6-feet, 193 pounds) and experience make him a relatively competent emergency fill-in. After all, teams with a need at cornerback are usually out of luck in the days leading up to the start of the regular season.
As we do every week in the regular season, we'll provide a full injury NFC North report late Wednesday afternoon.
*Update: Neither Houston nor Delmas participated in the portion of practice open to the media Wednesday.