The Detroit Lions are coming off the final blow to their playoff hopes this season, after losing to the Cincinnati Bengals who had nothing to play for. The Bengals were able to play spoiler to the Lions’ hopes as running back Giovani Bernard ran for 116 yards and a touchdown and caught seven for another 52 yards. Bernard made Swiss cheese of the Lions defense, who had held other high profile running backs in check this season.
This devastating loss has stoked the flames under head coach Jim Caldwell’s seat on the team, and a lot of speculation has begun about if he will be fired and who would fill the position. Owner Martha Ford and general manager Bob Quinn both refused to comment after the game as to the security of the head coach. Caldwell has been kept since the front office turnover a couple years ago that saw the hiring of Quinn, mostly due to his relationship with the players on the team. Many of them spoke out in favor of keeping the coach then, and some of them are speaking out now.
Insert: Jim Caldwell https://t.co/wGersghbr6
— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) December 27, 2017
While tight end Eric Ebron has made a few public statements supporting Caldwell and crediting him with the growth Ebron has been seeing in the offense lately, wide receiver Golden Tate has made a few statements that have hinted at dissent with the current coaching staff. This very well could be due to the catch ruled incomplete late in the game Sunday, that could have been challenged and overturned. The most direct response after Sunday’s game was a tweet from defensive tackle Ashawn Robinson which merely said “F**k”, that tweet has since been deleted.
Had the Lions pulled off the win against an opponent that was held to one score by both the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears, the help they needed to enter the playoffs was there. On Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons lost their matchup to the New Orleans Saints, which was the first step in a two-game slide the Lions needed from that them. With a Falcons loss to the Carolina Panthers this week, it would have set up for Week 17 against the Packers to be a win and you’re in situation for Detroit. That situation now has transferred to the Seattle Seahawks who are the only team left that could unseat the Falcons from the sixth NFC playoff seed. If the Falcons defeat the Panthers, all three NFC South teams will make the playoffs.
After all the drama of the past few weeks of the Lions playoff chances to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers coming off injured reserve, the final game of the season has basically no meaning other than draft positioning. Many key players for the Packers were kept from practice on Wednesday and would expect to be held from the game, but the Lions are relatively healthy this late in the season. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has already dispelled any thought of being benched in the final game of the year, though ultimately that isn’t his decision and for the security of the franchise would be wise.
Defensive end Dwight Freeney did not practice on Wednesday, but this has been the norm for him since joining the team. So expect Freeney to be available on Sunday. The only person not to participate at practice was cornerback Nevin Lawson who is currently in the concussion protocol.
Center Travis Swanson who has been in concussion protocol for the past couple weeks had his first full practice on Wednesday. This is very important to the overall health of Swanson as this is the second concussion this year and this was a particularly bad one. It’s still unknown if concussion issues will lead to an early retirement for Swanson at the end of the season.
Limited in practice this week was tight end Eric Ebron (Knee), guard T.J. Lang (Foot), and tackle Rick Wagner (Ankle). Ebron and Wagner both played on Sunday and if Stafford is on the field, expect both of them to be as well. Lang has been held out of the games the past couple weeks, but if the full team plays on Sunday, Lang should get some reps with the offense.
Green Bay Packers Injury Report:
If the Lions were fighting for a playoff spot, this would be the most ideal situation for them to sweep the Packers. With Rodgers on IR and half the offense not practicing on Wednesday, it now just looks sad.
Players who didn’t practice on Wednesday: wide receivers Davante Adams (Concussion), Jordy Nelson (Shoulder), Geronimo Allison (Illness), guard Jahri Evans (Knee), running back Aaron Jones (Knee), linebacker Nick Perry (Ankle/ Shoulder), and tight end Richard Rodgers (Shoulder).
Players who were limited in practice on Wednesday: linebackers Ahmad Brooks (Back/ Shoulder) and Clay Matthews (Hamstring), defensive tackle Quinton Dial (Knee), cornerbacks Davon House (Shoulder/ Back) and Demarious Randall (Knee).
Players listed on the injury report with full practice on Wednesday: safety Josh Jones (Shoulder) and guard Lucas Patrick (Hand).
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