Dan Campbell reinforces how Zach Ertz is not a lock to play for Lions vs. 49ers

Zach Ertz is an interesting flier for the Detroit Lions, but Dan Campbell reinforced where expectations should be for the veteran tight end.

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On Monday, in the wake of last Sunday's injury to No. 2 tight end Brock Wright, it was reported the Detroit Lions are signing veteran tight end Zach Ertz.

The move to add Ertz to the practice squad was not made official among some moves reshuffling the practice squad on Tuesday. But earlier in the day head coach Dan Campbell essentially confirmed the move when explaining why Ertz was being brought in.

Unlike the notable veteran additions to the practice squad the Lions have made over the last couple months, Bruce Irvin and Tyson Alualu, Ertz has played football this season. He had 27 receptions for 187 yards and a touchdown over seven games for the Arizona Cardinals, before a quad injury landed him on injured reserve. When he was healthy enough to return, Ertz asked for and was granted his release in late-November.

During his press conference on Wednesday, Campbell confirmed Ertz was in the building. But he also laid out the situation in honest terms.

Dan Campbell lays out obvious uncertainty over Zach Ertz's playing status this week

With Sam LaPorta and Anthony Firkser the only healthy tight ends the Lions have right now, Ertz was an easy addition. Dating back to when LaPorta suffered his knee injury in the regular season finale and looked he could miss time, Ertz was easy to see as a fit.

But even with the experience he has, Ertz is up against it to learn the Lions' offense. He also has three days of practice to show he is physically up to par to be able to play in Sunday's NFC Championship Game, after sitting out for a couple months. And Wednesday's session will be a lighter walkthrough.

All of that lands things where Campbell's comments about Ertz, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, were during his Wednesday presser.

"Look, he just got here," Campbell said of Ertz. "I know he’s in shape. I talked to him the other day. He understands we’re just going to gauge this and see where we’re at, so he’ll be out here (for Wednesday's walk-through)."

"Look, he’s played, played at a high level," Campbell said. "There’s things that he does well and it’s just a matter is this the week to use him?"

The Lions can't truly know if Ertz is ready to play without seeing him first. It's not even that he'll play a ton if he does play on Sunday-he surely won't play more than 5-10 snaps, as primarily a receiving option. Those things said, the move to sign him will look odd and rather pointless if he doesn't suit up against the 49ers.
But the uncertainty over if he will is the natural reality of the situation.

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