NFL Nation: LaAdrian Waddle

Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell posted on Instagram on Thursday night that he had surgery to fix an undisclosed issue.

Bell had a few injuries throughout the course of the season, including suffering an Achilles injury prior to Week 17 against Green Bay. The injury didn't keep Bell from playing against the Packers or in Detroit's playoff game against Dallas.

He also had an ankle injury in November that he played through. Bell did not say what he had surgery on in his Instagram photo.

Surgery was a success, be right back like I left something #Concrete

A photo posted by Joique Bell (@j35ive) on

Bell, who was Detroit's leading rusher in 2014, wasn't the only Detroit player to have surgery scheduled.

Right tackle LaAdrian Waddle was placed on injured reserve after being carted off against Minnesota in Week 15 with an injury to his left knee.

On Wednesday, Waddle tweeted he is finishing his last two classes to graduate from Texas Tech this semester -- and that he's having surgery as well.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell said “it doesn’t look good” for right tackle LaAdrian Waddle, who left Sunday’s 16-14 win over Minnesota with a left knee injury.

Caldwell said the Lions still were running some more tests before making a final diagnosis.

Waddle was hit by Minnesota defensive end Everson Griffen, who rushed from the opposite side of Waddle. He ended up being blocked into Waddle’s left knee, causing it to buckle awkwardly in the third quarter.

Based on the film, Waddle did not see Griffen run into him. He immediately crumpled to the ground, writhing in pain and reaching for trainers when they came to him. He was then carted off the field.

"It looked bad," right guard Larry Warford said. "I don't want to say anything about it, but yeah, I usually don't hear L.A. scream. I don't think I've ever heard him scream before."

If Waddle is out for any amount of time, the Lions probably will turn to undrafted rookie Cornelius Lucas, who has played both left and right tackle this season.
Ndamukong Suh missed the first practice of his career Thursday. He was limited Friday. But the illness he apparently has is starting to get better, as the defensive tackle is listed as probable for Detroit on Sunday against Minnesota.

Prior to Friday’s practice, Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell couldn’t completely rule out Suh missing Sunday’s game.

"I don’t have an indication that it will happen," Caldwell said. "But it’s not out of the question."

The illness is going around Detroit’s locker room. Linebacker Josh Bynes is probable after dealing with the illness, and safety James Ihedigbo appears to have caught it as well. Ihedigbo missed practice Friday with an illness and is also probable.

Two Lions, running back Reggie Bush (ankle) and middle linebacker Tahir Whitehead (shoulder) are listed as questionable. The only player ruled out is defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

In better news for Detroit, right tackle LaAdrian Waddle returned to fully practicing Friday after being limited earlier in the week with a concussion. He is also listed as probable.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Ndamukong Suh has been one of the most durable Detroit Lions since he arrived in Michigan in 2010.

On Thursday, though, Suh missed a rare practice -- believed to be his first missed regular-season practice not due to suspension -- because of illness.

Suh, Josh Bynes (illness) and Nick Fairley (knee) were the only Lions not practicing Thursday.

The better news for Detroit is right tackle LaAdrian Waddle was out there after being limited Wednesday with an unknown head injury. Lions coach Jim Caldwell, during his media availability Thursday, would not say whether Waddle was being evaluated for a concussion.

Running back Reggie Bush (ankle) also returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday. Caldwell would not say whether sitting Bush on Wednesday was a precaution for Bush, who has dealt with ankle injuries for most of the season.

"There’s some times that we make adjustments accordingly when we have to," Caldwell said. "I’m not necessarily saying that is one of those situations in that case, but we do adjust and compensate for guys, particularly once they’ve been in the league for a little while. You have to look out for them."

Rapid Reaction: Detroit Lions

November, 16, 2014

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A few thoughts on the Detroit Lions' 14-6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.

What it means: The Lions continued to have a strong defense, and once again, the Lions’ offense failed them. Detroit only reached the red zone once Sunday and failed to score a touchdown for the first time this season.

This came about because of some rough throws by Matthew Stafford, some bad protection of Stafford by the Lions' offensive line and a lack of creative play-calling on movement downs. Detroit was 5-of-15 on third downs but should have been much better, considering at least two of the Lions’ failed third downs were third-and-short.

The biggest issue for the defense now is the lack of sacks on Drew Stanton. The former Lions’ quarterback wasn't sacked once but was picked off twice.

Stock watch: Rising -- Joique Bell. The running back once again had an inspired game -- even when the rest of his offense couldn’t do much. Bell hurdled defenders, was rarely brought down by the first tackler and again gave evidence he should be the team’s lead running back.

Falling -- Joe Lombardi. The Lions' offensive coordinator had a fairly predictable game plan, including running the ball with fullback Jed Collins on third-and-short. His offense has struggled most of the season, but against a strong Arizona defense, he left them at a loss. It was so bad, the Lions’ offense failed to score a touchdown.

Falling -- LaAdrian Waddle. The right tackle just can’t stay healthy this season. A week after hurting his knee, the second-year pro went down with an ankle injury in the second half and did not return. He was replaced by Cornelius Lucas. It’s a rough time for the right side of the Lions’ offensive line right now.

Back to their old selves: Jim Caldwell has often stressed to his team the importance of limiting penalties -- it’s one of the things he was brought in to help correct. On Sunday, though, that all began to fall apart. Detroit was flagged nine times for 80 yards, including a 15-yard taunting penalty on Julian Stanford late in the game.

Game ball: Joique Bell. The running back did everything he could Sunday; he gained 85 yards on 14 carries against one of the top rushing defenses in the NFL. He also caught three passes for 30 yards and ran hard when the rest of the Detroit offense looked fairly lifeless. Bell looked more and more like the running back he was a season ago, when he ran for 3.9 yards a carry as the complement to Reggie Bush.

What’s next: The Lions continue their two-game road trip by heading to New England on Sunday for a game against Tom Brady and the Patriots.

The Film Don't Lie: Lions

November, 11, 2014
A weekly look at what the Detroit Lions must fix:

The Lions have dealt with injuries all season long, but now the team is in a bit of a jam because those injuries are starting to pile up on an already fragile offensive line. Considering Detroit faces an Arizona run defense that is third in yards per game allowed (78.56) and fourth in yards per rush (3.35) in the NFL, that is going to be a problem Sunday.

Detroit gained 3.3 yards per carry against Miami, and if they are without both right guard Larry Warford (likely) and right tackle LaAdrian Waddle (unknown), it is going to be a major issue for the offense. The Lions will likely slide rookie Travis Swanson in to replace Warford as they did against Miami.

Right tackle is another issue and becomes a little trickier if Waddle is out. When he had been injured in the past, the Lions used a rotation of rookie Cornelius Lucas and veteran Garrett Reynolds at right tackle and could do so because of the talent and experience of Warford. Without him, the Lions are going to have to stick to one player -- likely Lucas -- if they are going to have any success.

Don't be surprised if Detroit ends up looking more to quick passes into the flat or running over the center or left side of the line. According to Pro Football Focus, Detroit has already been doing that somewhat, as they have 35 rushes over center, 25 in the gap between center and left guard and 23 between left guard and left tackle. The problem is they haven't averaged more than 3.3 yards a carry in any of those gaps, so this has to improve. In the passing game, this could also mean more quick reads and short passes for Matthew Stafford instead of longer-developing routes to mask potential problems on the line's right side.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Larry Warford doesn’t have the name recognition of Nick Fairley or the longevity of Stephen Tulloch or the star power of Calvin Johnson. But when you’re looking at injuries that could become major factors for the Detroit Lions this season, losing their right guard to a left knee injury could be at least equally as devastating.

The reasoning behind that -- and Lions coach Jim Caldwell said it could "be a little bit" before Warford returns, although no specifics were provided -- is who is there to replace him.

The Lions had Golden Tate and others to step in and at least fill some of the void Johnson’s absence left. A combination of Tahir Whitehead, who had some experience on the field, and DeAndre Levy handling play calls slid in for Tulloch. The Lions have always had confidence in C.J. Mosley to step in and play for Fairley -- and the defensive line is a rotation anyway.

But Warford? He’s being replaced by a rookie, Travis Swanson, who saw his first extended offensive playing time Sunday against the Dolphins. And while Swanson handled himself well enough for a debut, that is now a spot of weakness on the offensive line that defenses can exploit, especially if right tackle LaAdrian Waddle ends up missing time, too.

“Any time that you have a guy that’s played as long as he’s played, obviously any time we have any sort of injury at any position and the guy has a bevy of experience and he’s replaced by a guy who doesn’t have as much experience, you’re obviously lose that part of it,” Caldwell said. “He’s obviously been playing extremely well, and if he’s not able to play this week, then we’ll get somebody ready to go.”

Offensive line play is all about cohesion and comfort level, something obvious when Waddle was out in September. The Lions just didn’t seem as smooth as a unit without their typical starting five in. Now, Warford might be gone for a while and they have to slide Swanson in.

While there is confidence in Swanson from the Lions’ vets -- including the guy he’d be playing next to, center Dominic Raiola -- Warford was turning into one of the league’s better guards. According to Pro Football Focus, he has been the Lions’ top pass blocker this season and in the middle of a rough offensive line when it comes to run blocking. His two sacks allowed are tied for the lowest among the Lions’ regular offensive linemen.

He rated as the 19th-best guard in the league by PFF and 14th against the pass. While those rankings may not sound too impressive, the way he plays comparatively to the guy who will be replacing him is a pretty large downgrade.

Of course, a season ago, there were questions about whether another rookie third-round pick could handle being thrust into a starting role. That player was Warford, and he had a better rookie season than any offensive lineman.

Unless a Lions rookie offensive lineman accomplishes that for the second straight season, losing Warford for any period of time could be another major blow to the team’s offense.

The Film Don't Lie: Lions

October, 28, 2014
A weekly look at what the Detroit Lions must fix:

The Lions must use their off week to try to find a way to revitalize their offense in the first halves of games. Detroit scored only three points combined in the first halves against New Orleans and Atlanta, while allowing 31. This is a massive change from the first six games, when the Lions didn’t allow 10 points in any first half. And while Detroit came back to win both of those games, it is playing a dangerous game by falling into large deficits.

So how does Detroit spend the off week trying to fix this before facing the Dolphins on Nov. 9? Simple. Get healthy. This will be a much more dynamic offense with a healthier Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush, Eric Ebron, Joseph Fauria, Brandon Pettigrew and LaAdrian Waddle. All of those players have missed at least one game -- including the Atlanta game at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

The fact that the Lions are 6-2 at the midway point of the season is kind of remarkable considering the injuries they have had on offense. The Lions have been able to better absorb injuries on defense, but they need their offense to come to form to be strong in the second half of the season.

The Film Don't Lie: Lions

October, 7, 2014
A weekly look at what the Detroit Lions must fix:

The Lions invested a lot of money in their offense over the past three seasons, but if they can’t keep quarterback Matthew Stafford upright and not running for his life, none of that will matter. The Lions, who face Minnesota on Sunday, have to do a better job of protecting Stafford. He's been sacked 17 times in five games.

The Lions are 31st in the league in sacks per dropback at 8.3 percent, according to ESPN Stats & Information, after being second in the NFL last season at 3.6 percent. While injuries to LaAdrian Waddle and Corey Hilliard appeared to be part of the issue at first, it looks like the problem is bigger than any one player. A bigger potential concern is the Lions were beaten soundly by a Bills defense that rarely blitzed, sending five or more rushers only 10.3 percent of the time.

One way the Lions can fix this is to have Stafford get rid of the ball faster. He’s holding on to the ball for 2.48 seconds before the pass, a fraction slower than last season. However, in the NFL, a fraction of a second can make all the difference.

There’s also this: In the past two weeks, Detroit has faced two of the NFL’s top pass rushes -- including that of the Jets, which is ranked No. 1 in the league. Facing a more middle-of-the-road group in Minnesota might help start building some confidence to fix what ails the Lions' line right now.

W2W4: Lions vs. Bills

October, 4, 2014
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions are getting ready to welcome former head coach Jim Schwartz to Ford Field as he returns with the Buffalo Bills. Here are some things to watch in his return Sunday.

1. What is up with Calvin Johnson: He is going to be someone to pay attention to during warm-ups Sunday as he continues to deal with an ankle injury suffered against Green Bay. Last week he played but was largely used as a very talented decoy and run blocker against the Jets. Considering his week of practice -- or lack thereof -- he might be in line for a similar role against the Bills. His presence will be interesting to see early on, especially since if there is an opposing coach who understands Johnson’s mannerisms, gait and demeanor before and during games, it would be Jim Schwartz.

2. How the line protects: Detroit getting tackle LaAdrian Waddle back in the lineup should help the Lions on multiple levels. Waddle is one of Detroit’s best pass-blockers, and his chemistry with guard Larry Warford should improve the right side of the line instantly in run and pass blocking. Every lineman I spoke with this week praised the job Cornelius Lucas and Garrett Reynolds did in Waddle’s absence, but all also acknowledged that Waddle being back should help a unit that has allowed 11 sacks in 2014.

3. How the Lions pressure Kyle Orton: The Lions have been pretty good about mixing up their blitzes and coverages over the first four weeks of the season, leading to the league’s top-rated defense. It will be interesting to see how the Lions scheme for Orton, who has never been a dual-threat quarterback (282 rushing yards) or a particularly accurate one (career completion percentage of 58.5 percent). Expect Detroit to get after Orton, who has started four games for Dallas over the past two seasons, early to see if they can fluster him into rusty mistakes.

4. The reaction to Schwartz: The Buffalo defensive coordinator said Friday "it doesn’t matter" how he is treated in his return to Detroit. Well, Schwartz has always been known as a contrarian. While he may believe right now that it won’t matter and that he won’t have any emotional pull, he did spend five years of his life here and was responsible for many of Detroit’s current players ending up with the Lions, including Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush, DeAndre Levy and Ndamukong Suh. So at the very least there will be a lot of familiarity for him this weekend. Considering one of the last images of him in Ford Field is getting into it with Detroit Lions’ fans, it certainly should be an interesting reaction all around when he shows up.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Larry Warford and LaAdrian Waddle will walk out of the huddle toward the line of scrimmage and won't say much to each other. They don't need to.

The Detroit Lions' starting right guard and right tackle, both in their second seasons, have developed their own code. It comprises short language and non-verbal cues to communicate things they see before the snap.

"It's code," Waddle said. "But we know. It's based on the look and how things are set up, we already know what we have.

"Sometimes, we just don't want to give away stuff."

This is what the Lions have missed for the past three weeks while Waddle has been sidelined with a calf injury. In his place, Detroit rotated rookie Cornelius Lucas and veteran Garrett Reynolds, sometimes by the quarter.

Even as the Lions' coaches and players tried to downplay it -- and they all praised the work Lucas and Reynolds did -- continuity and chemistry were factors.

Waddle has yet to give up a sack in his career. His presence also makes Warford more comfortable. The two understand each other's games well. They know where each other is going to be and have gravitated to each other since they both arrived following the 2013 draft.

"Me being selfish, in a selfish way, having LA [back] does, it changes things up for me," Warford said. "I completely understand his game, I know where he's going to be. He knows where I'm going to be. The communication, we don't even have to communicate that much, you know.

"We'll just be walking up to the line and just give each other looks sometimes like 'I know what he's doing.'"

This happens during games because of how Waddle and Warford practice. During the week, Waddle said the two almost "overcommunicate" to try to drill everything they believe they might see into their heads.

They do this so that when Sunday comes, they can revert to their unspoken head nods and short-hand language to pick up anything they might see. It is that sort of chemistry that can't be duplicated when the team doesn't have line consistency.

This consistency is critical for the Lions. This is a unit that allowed just 23 sacks last season but has already given up 11 over four games in 2014. The numbers, though, can be misleading. While there are times the Lions' offensive line has been beat, they are also running a riskier offensive system than a season ago.

The Lions focused on Matthew Stafford getting the ball out quickly last season, while this year, the routes sometimes take longer to develop. This means there are more plays during which, if something goes awry downfield, a sack can occur. While a tenth of a second might not seem like much, that Stafford is averaging a tenth of a second more before a pass is a difference for an offensive line.

In 2013, Stafford got rid of the ball in 2.42 seconds on average. This season, he is at 2.53. So it leads to more risk, but also more reward if the blocking holds up.

"It's just the design of the play," Warford said. "There are certain plays that leave people in a high-risk situation. If you can block it up, it's completions and a big gain. That's the cool thing about Joe [Lombardi], he's willing to take risks.

"Sometimes you get caught doing it. It happens. It's part of football."

It is a part of football the Lions are looking to improve at and should take a big step with as Waddle comes back. The Lions felt they were doing a good job before, but Sunday they'll have a chance to play with their starting offensive line for more than just a series.

"In our eyes, we were doing a pretty good job, you know what I mean," left guard Rob Sims said. "We think Garrett and [Lucas] came in and did pretty well, but LaAdrian is our starter.

"He is going to get it done."

The Film Don't Lie: Lions

September, 30, 2014
A weekly look at what the Detroit Lions must fix:

Matthew Stafford is once again playing well at the start of the season, but for the Lions to have success against the Buffalo Bills and the rest of the year, he must receive better protection from his offensive line.

Stafford has been sacked 11 times, hit seven other times and hurried 31 times in four games, according to Pro Football Focus. Those numbers are all on pace to be far worse than last season, when the Lions were one of the best teams in the league at protecting their quarterback, allowing only 23 sacks.

Pro Football Focus gave three of Detroit’s linemen -- left guard Rob Sims and the right tackle combination of Garrett Reynolds and Cornelius Lucas -- negative grades. PFF has Sims charged with surrendering eight of those quarterback hurries while Dominic Raiola and Riley Reiff have six each.

The stats bear out the issues at right tackle, as Lucas and Reynolds allowed five sacks in three weeks. If the Lions felt truly comfortable with either player, they wouldn’t rotate between the two.

While it may not be an absolute fix, Detroit appears to be on track to have starting right tackle LaAdrian Waddle returning this week against the Bills. This should help in many ways. It would restore continuity to the offensive line and have the Lions starting their best five pass protectors. It also brings the return of a player who has yet to allow a sack in his career.

Considering Buffalo is sacking quarterbacks on 6.3 percent of dropbacks (12th in the league) Waddle might be returning at the perfect time for Detroit.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Calvin Johnson missed his first practice of the season with an ankle injury on Wednesday, but he is not yet concerned about missing Sunday's game against the New York Jets.

"I’m not concerned about it," Johnson said. "When those things happen, get in here and just work and work and work until things get right."

Johnson injured the ankle late during the Detroit Lions' 19-7 win over the Green Bay Packers. He didn't seem too concerned about the injury then, either.

So far this season, Johnson has caught 19 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns.

Johnson played 14 games last season -- many of them with a busted-up finger and ailing knee, both of which required surgery after the season. He still caught 84 passes for 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns with the injuries.

Johnson was one of four Lions players to miss practice Wednesday, joining Travis Lewis (quad), Don Carey (hamstring) and Cassius Vaughn (ankle).

Five players -- including four starters -- were limited Wednesday: defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (knee), running back Joique Bell (knee), defensive tackle Nick Fairley (bicep), fullback Montell Owens (hamstring) and right tackle LaAdrian Waddle (calf).

In better news for Detroit, safety James Ihedigbo practiced fully for the first time this regular season as he recovers from a neck injury. Pay attention to his status Thursday. If he practices fully then, it could mean he will end up making his debut with the Lions on Sunday.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Last season, Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson was a typical no-show at Wednesday practices as he rested his knee and finger. This season, though, Johnson missed practice for the first time Wednesday.

He was one of four Lions not spotted during the media portion of practice along with linebacker Travis Lewis, cornerback Cassius Vaughn and safety Don Carey.

Johnson appeared to tweak his ankle during Sunday's win against Green Bay, but didn't seem too concerned about it after the game. Lewis sat out last week with a quad injury. Vaughn missed the Packers' game with an ankle injury and was in a walking boot. Carey tweaked his hamstring early against Green Bay and did not return.

Right tackle LaAdrian Waddle, as he said he would Monday, returned to practice but was mostly standing off to the side during the portion of practice the media was able to watch. Also, James Ihedigbo was at practice and participating.

Also, for the first time, a couple of Lions players were spotted in different yellow jerseys -- likely signifying they are simulating Jets players in practice. Tight end Jordan Thompson was wearing the No. 85 of Jeff Cumberland and Andrew Peacock was wearing the No. 11 of Jeremy Kerley.

The Film Don't Lie: Lions

September, 23, 2014
A weekly look at what the Detroit Lions must fix:

The New York Jets have one of the top rushing defenses in the NFL and have proven to be able to rush the quarterback well out of its 3-4 defense. When the Detroit Lions head to suburban New York City on Sunday, they’ll have to fix their lingering issue at right tackle if they are going to have a shot this week.

According to Pro Football Focus, the combination of Garrett Reynolds and Cornelius Lucas gave up a quarterback sack, a quarterback hit and two hurries on Matthew Stafford against Green Bay and Julius Peppers last week. That’s an issue the Lions are going to have to fix with defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and outside linebackers Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace lined up against the right tackle. PFF also said both graded in the bottom 20 percent of pass blocking efficiency last week.

The Lions can solve this in one of three ways. The easiest would be hoping starting right tackle LaAdrian Waddle -- who plans on practicing Wednesday -- improves enough from his calf strain to rejoin the lineup Sunday.

If he can’t go, the Lions can either commit tight end Brandon Pettigrew to the right side of the line next to Reynolds or Lucas to provide extra help, although that could hinder some of Joe Lombardi scheming with the rest of Detroit’s offensive pieces.

The other option is to either stick with Lucas or Reynolds to let him build chemistry with right guard Larry Warford throughout the game instead of playing both players, turning the position into a potential turnstile for the Lions' offense and Jets' defense.