Wide receiver Roy Williams, who left on the first series in Sunday's loss to Minnesota, is likely to play against Buffalo this weekend. An upper-back "stinger" kept Williams out of practice on Monday and Wednesday, and he was expected to report back to Allen Park late Thursday.
"Right now it sounds like he's doing good, but there's always concern," said Marinelli, who added that Williams would be evaluated by team physicians before he's given the OK. "We'd like to have had him here all the way through it, but he had a personal matter he had to attend to."
Marinelli didn't elaborate on Williams' absence from Thursday's session, but regardless, the return of the team's No. 1 receiver will certainly be welcomed.
Earlier this week, the team was forced to place offensive guard Damien Woody on injured reserve, ending his season. With other injuries afflicting the ball club, Williams' presence is just one of a few positives for the winless Lions.
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz said Williams' injury forced the entire offense into an odd predicament, one of which it never quite adjusted to. Facing a Buffalo defense that has similar tendencies to both Chicago and Minnesota, Williams' return is critical.
But will his lack of practice affect him on Sunday?
"It always hurts anybody, (but) he's so grounded with what we do," said Martz. "He's one of the smartest receivers I've been around. He's quick to learn the stuff, he'll pick it up.
"He should be fine. I'm more concerned about his health in terms of how free he'll be moving around."
Help at receiver?
When Marinelli or Martz beam about wide receiver DeVale Ellis, one might ask why he never made the final roster in the first place.
Ellis, an on-again, off-again practice squad player, was again elevated to the roster this week. And this time, he's likely to be activated for Sunday -- adding to the likelihood that Mike Williams will not dress.
"He's fast, I mean really fast," Marinelli said of Ellis. "He has to keep working. This is the time of the year you have a chance to really look at some of these good young players. Some of them are surfacing, so we'll see. But he has great, great speed, great quickness."
Martz echoed those comments, saying that it was a strong possibility that Ellis would have his onfield opportunities against Buffalo.
"At that position you just have to show up and make plays and that's what he does," said Martz. "You have to standout by your ability to make plays in practice. He's got that terrific speed. At practice he catches the ball so well, (he runs) impeccable routes and all those good things. It's about time for him to move in there to see if he can help us."
Marinelli's response to whether or not Mike Williams would see the field was not as unambiguous.
"We're just kind of working this whole week out right now and getting all these guys in to see where we're at," he said.
Offensive line shuffle
Recently acquired Blaine Saipaia will start at right guard for Damien Woody on Sunday, while veteran Barry Stokes will start at left guard for the still injured Ross Verba. Rookie Jonathan Scott will get the start at right tackle for a hobbled Rex Tucker.
The Lions have yet to start the same set of players on the offensive line for any game this year.