Heading into the final game of the 2021 season, the Detroit Lions have placed both starting offensive tackles on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Every NFL team has been hit by COVID-19 and the NFL’s rules regarding the virus to some degree this season, and the Detroit Lions have had their roster thinned very much some weeks. On Monday, with the Week 18 season finale against the Green Bay Packers coming Sunday, the Lions announced some roster moves.
Coming off the COVID list is defensive end Michael Brockers, wide receiver Josh Reynolds, guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai and tight end Brock Wright.
Going on the COVID list is outside linebacker Austin Bryant, offensive tackle Taylor Decker and offensive tackle Penei Sewell. Running back Rodney Smith has been put on the Practice Squad/COVID-19 list.
The Lions may be down both starting offensive tackles for season finale
Sunday’s season finale is mostly meaningless to the 2-13-1 Lions, with a chance to get back to the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft if they lose and the Jacksonville Jaguars win. That said, Dan Campbell will have this team giving effort regardless of who is and isn’t available.
If recent history means anything, with changed NFL protocols for vaccinated players to consider in the equation, Bryant, Decker and Sewell will miss Sunday’s game against Green Bay. There’s plenty of time to theoretically be asymptomatic and be cleared off the COVID list if they are vaccinated. But quarterback Jared Goff went on the list two Mondays ago, and missed the following Sunday. Reynolds also had a wide enough window last week to possibly get cleared, but he missed Sunday’s game against the Seahawks.
The possibility of being down Decker and Sewell is a bad development for the Lions, and a big downgrade to both spots if it comes to that. Head coach Dan Campbell confirmed Matt Nelson, who started early in the season at right tackle when Decker was out (and Sewell played left tackle), and Will Holden would be the starting tackles against Green Bay.
“I think you’ve gotta prepare like you’re not gonna have them,” Campbell said. “We thought we were gonna have Josh Reynolds, I was being hopeful, I was being optimistic with it, and we didn’t get Josh Reynolds. Lesson learned there a little bit. We were ready, (KhaDarel) Hodge got those reps, it was all good. But I think (Matt) Nelson’s gotta be ready, and Will Holden and those guys.”
If just Decker has to miss Sunday’s game, the plan would presumabley be what it was in the first half of the season when he was out–Sewell moving over to left tackle, and Nelson stepping in at right tackle. If it’s just Sewell out, then Nelson would probably step in on the right side.