DETROIT – The Green Bay Packers probably will be without Jamaal Williams, their second-leading rusher, for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions.
The Lions will shed absolutely zero tears. That’s because they lost their fangs following a 2-0-1 start after being chewed up and spit out by injuries.
The big injury was to quarterback Matthew Stafford. They were 3-4-1 in his eight starts but 0-7 without him. Stafford threw for 2,499 yards with 19 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 106.0 passer rating. For a player who has put up massive numbers throughout his career, Stafford was off to the best start. As the Packers know all too well from Aaron Rodgers missing big chunks of the 2013 and 2017 seasons, it’s hard to replace a star quarterback. In seven games without Stafford, the quarterbacks have thrown for 1,547 yards with eight touchdowns and nine interceptions.
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Detroit might have had a fighting chance if the rest of its roster had stayed healthy. Instead, heading into Sunday, 16 players are on injured reserve. The Lions’ IR team almost certainly would beat who’s left on the 53-man roster in an intrasquad game.
Who’s out? Here’s some of that list – one that doesn’t include starting running back Kerryon Johnson, who returned from injured reserve last week.
Guard Joe Dahl started the first 13 games. He allowed 3.5 sacks and was penalized just once, according to STATS.
Receivers Marvin Jones and Marvin Hall. In 13 games, Jones caught 62 passes for 779 yards and nine touchdowns. In 2017, he had 1,101 receiving yards and a league-leading 18.0 yards per catch. Hall caught only seven passes in nine games; six of those catches went for more than 20 yards, including five of 34-plus yards.
Tight end T.J. Hockenson. In 12 games, the team’s No. 1 draft pick caught 32 passes for 367 yards and two touchdowns and showed signs of being an excellent blocker.
Defensive linemen Mike Daniels and Da’Shawn Hand have combined to play in only eight games. Hand had three sacks last year, including a sack and forced fumble against Green Bay. Also, starter A’Shawn Robinson has been ruled out for Sunday.
Linebackers Jarrad Davis, Christian Jones and Jahlani Tavai. Davis, the team’s middle linebacker, had 63 tackles and three forced fumbles in 11 games. Jones had 50 tackles, two sacks and four passes defensed in 13 games. Tavai, a hard-hitting rookie, had 57 tackles, two sacks and five tackles for losses in 13 games. Combined, they played 158 snaps with 12 tackles in Week 6 against Green Bay.
Heading into that game against the Packers, Detroit was 2-1-1. Its loss was a narrow and controversial setback at home to the Chiefs. The Lions have won just once since, with eight consecutive losses.
Nonetheless, Packers coach Matt LaFleur is expecting the Lions’ best shot.
“The majority of my time was spent looking at the defense and I see a bunch of guys competing hard,” LaFleur said. “They’re going to hit you. They’re going to be physical. They’ve had a lot of injuries at some key spots. And that sometimes can be tough to deal with and tough to overcome. But you look at a lot of their games are still going down right to the end. This is the National Football League. And you better be ready to play your best every week in order to come out on top. We know they’ve got a lot of young guys there that are competing for jobs. Everybody, every time you step out on that field, that tape is your resume. So we know we’re going to get their best shot and we’ve got to be fully prepared for that in order to go out there and put together good football.”