With three preseason games now, the trend has tilted toward NFL teams having joint practices against an upcoming preseason opponent and treating that work as more meaningful than said game. Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell is a staunch advocate for joint practices, as a welcome change from the monotony of going against yourself in training camp.
The injuries suffered by Jameson Williams and Amon-Ra St. Brown during the first joint practice against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Wednesday had nothing to do with the decision. But on Thursday morning, during an appearance on 97.1 The Ticket, Campbell confirmed what he had practically already said.
"My plan is, that's another reason we do these," Campbell said. "I feel like you've got two great days of work and you banked a lot of reps. So I don't see us playing these starters this week. I don't see it. We're gonna sit that core group again and let some of these young guys go. There may be a few select rookies we don't play. We'll see where we're at with that as well. But I think that's the benefit of having this, we had over 40 reps yesterday." "
So Lions' starters will not play Saturday against Jacksonville. The "select rookies" who will sit are probably Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam LaPorta and Brian Branch. Jack Campbell could be one too, but he's still in a battle for the starting job alongside Alex Anzalone. So he could see some snaps early, against the best players the Jaguars will have out there, before bowing out.
It might be nice for the Lions' starters to get some game action before the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, since certain things just can't be replicated in joint practices. But they are unlikely to play in the Aug. 25 preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers, with the risk of injury likely deemed to not be worth whatever reward of "game reps" there might be.