Game Plan: Lions Health Will Make Difference

It will help the Lions offensive personnel situation if they get their two rookie playmakers -- WR Roy Williams and RB Kevin Jones -- back on a full-time basis. Game Plan, matchups to watch, and much more inside.

It will help the Lions offensive personnel situation if they get their two rookie playmakers -- WR Roy Williams and RB Kevin Jones -- back on a full-time basis.

With Williams out with a sprained ankle and Jones getting only two carries coming off a high ankle sprain, the Lions' offense crumbled -- getting only 20 minutes time of possession -- in the 28-point loss to the Green Bay Packers.

If the Lions can get Williams and Jones back, they should do better than five first downs in Sunday's matchup with the New York Giants.

The trading deadline came and went without the Lions making any personnel moves. They feel they have a solid, young nucleus and apparently had no interest in making deals outside those guidelines.

--WR Roy Williams, who missed the Green Bay game with a sprained ankle, remains uncertain for Sunday. He participated in the morning walkthrough but did very little in the Wednesday afternoon practice when the Lions began preparations for the Giants. Williams is the team's leading receiver with 20 catches for 295 yards and four touchdowns.

--CB Andre Goodman returned to practice this week for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury in the Lions' season-opener at Chicago. Goodman was the Lions' nickel back at the start of the season but has now missed four games completely.

--LB Donte' Curry, a backup linebacker and a member of every special teams unit, has a hyper-extended knee and did not participate in the start of practices for the Lions' road game Sunday against the New York Giants.

--OLB Boss Bailey, who was expected to be the Lions' starting strong side linebacker before he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during training camp, is continuing his rehabilitation but is not expected to play -- if he plays at all -- until at least mid-November.

--RB Kevin Jones has recovered enough from his high ankle sprain to participate in all of the team drills. Jones, who was injured Sept. 26 against Philadelphia, came back with just two carries for five yards Sunday against Green Bay but apparently has recovered enough to play a bigger role in the game Sunday at the New York Giants.

GAME PLAN: Once again, the Lions' fate will be tied to how they handle the running game -- the Giants' and their own. If they give up 157 yards to Tiki Barber and the Giants, as they did in the 38-10 loss to Green Bay and Najeh Davenport, the Lions will could end up on the short end of a 40-20 time of possession. Especially if they continue to struggle with their own running game, ranked 31st in the NFL. They have to control the Giants' running game and get their own game going.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

Lions OLB Teddy Lehman vs. Giants TE Jeremy Shockey: The rookie Lehman has made excellent progress, especially in playing the run, but he will have his work cut out for him in working against Shockey, one of the Giants' leading receivers who plays with great confidence.

Lions RT Stockar McDougle vs. Giants DE Michael Strahan: If the Lions are going to get QB Joey Harrington back into his comfort zone, McDougle has to keep Strahan from harassing him on every pass play.

Lions QB Joey Harrington vs. Giants CB Will Peterson: Harrington has been playing safe, efficient football but gave up a costly interception in the Lions game against Green Bay. He can't afford that kind of mistake considering the team's limited offensive output.

INJURY IMPACT: RB Kevin Jones appears to be sufficiently recovered from his high ankle sprain to get more than the two carries he had last Sunday against Green Bay, but the Lions still have a laundry list of players they can't be sure of for the Giants game. Included on the list are CB Fernando Bryant (ankle), WR Az-Zahir Hakim (ankle), FB Cory Schlesinger (hamstring), CB Andre Goodman (hamstring), DT Dan Wilkinson (triceps) and OT Stockar McDougle (groin). It would be particularly damaging to the Lions if Bryant, Hakim or McDougle were unable to play.


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