The most impressive part of the Detroit Lions’ 6-2 start to the season is that they’ve done it with the an offensive line dealing with a litany of injuries.
Through eight weeks, the Lions went through seven different offensive line combinations. Only Penei Sewell started every contest this season, and he was forced to flip from right tackle to left tackle when Taylor Decker missed time with an ankle sprain. Center Frank Ragnow missed Week 8 with calf and toe injuries. Left guard Jonah Jackson missed the past three games with an ankle injury. Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who opened the season at right guard, missed time with knee and back issues and was replaced by Graham Glasgow as the starter.
Despite all the missed games and injury concerns, Detroit’s offense continued to chug along, ranking sixth in rushing yards and fifth in sack percentage allowed. Some of those stats are a product of Jared Goff getting rid of the ball and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson smartly working around his O-line injuries. However, the fact that the Lions offense wasn’t crippled by injuries to its starters — like we’ve seen across the NFL — is a testament to offensive line coach Hank Fraley and the team’s ability to get backups ready.
The hope coming out of the bye week is that the starting crew can finally play together for a string of games.
“We’re finally back,” Jackson said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “The band’s back together. It’s time to put on a show.”
Ahead of Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, head coach Dan Campbell said he’s optimistic Jackson and Ragnow would return to the lineup.
“I was getting some heavy FOMO (fear of missing out),” Jackson said. “It was getting bad, so I’m real excited to be back out there with the guys. They were holding it down while I was out so it’s time for me to come back in and hold up my end of the bargain.”
If the Lions offensive line can stay healthy for the stretch run, Detroit’s efficient offense could take it to another level as they look to win their first division title since 1993.
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