Left guard has been an issue all season, with Manny Ramirez and Daniel Loper rotating for the most part. The Lions even tried Jon Jansen, an 11-year NFL veteran who had played nothing but right tackle, but that became a one-game experiment.
After Stephen Peterman was lost to injury Nov. 15 at Minnesota, Ramirez played the left, Loper the right. They played well Nov. 22 against Cleveland, but both struggled and were benched at different points Nov. 26 against Green Bay.
First, Dylan Gandy replaced Ramirez. Then he replaced Loper. He finished the game at right guard after Loper left with a back injury.
"It's frustrating, but the coaches are doing it for a reason," Ramirez said.
And what is that?
"I know I've been personally caught in the middle of trying to do more than I'm supposed to at times," Ramirez said. "But in the heat of the game, you want to go out there and try to get things going, and sometimes it hurts you. You've got to stay focused on the task at hand and just make sure you accomplish your job, and everything else will handle itself."
Loper did some work in the portion of practice open to reporters Thursday, but he was listed officially as not having practiced. But Gandy probably will start his first game for the Lions on Sunday. Gandy started 14 for Indianapolis from 2005-07.
"Dylan Gandy's going to get an opportunity to play some in there," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "Manny's been back in that role as a starting left guard. Like to see him take this last five-game stretch and really make a marked improvement. The telling tale is how they play this week and the four games after that. It's a great opportunity for someone to step up and be noticed."
Peterman is on injured reserve. He had surgery Nov. 20 to repair torn ligaments and remove a bone spur in his right ankle. After four weeks on crutches, he will be in a walking boot for two more. He expects to be ready for the off-season conditioning program in March.
"It sucks not to be out there fighting with the guys," said Peterman, who had surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee in 2004, his rookie year with the Cowboys. "I hate when football's taken away from me. I've been playing since I was 4, and it kind of brings back bad memories of being in Dallas and being on IR. But it's not as serious as that. I've been through it before, so I can come back from anything."
- OL Daniel Loper did some work in the portion of practice open to reporters Thursday. But the injury report listed him as not having practiced because of a back problem.
- S Kalvin Pearson missed practice again Thursday and is doubtful for Sunday's game at Cincinnati.
- S Louis Delmas was listed as limited for the second straight practice Thursday because of an ankle injury. He is expected to play Sunday.
- LB Ernie Sims was listed as limited for the second straight practice Thursday because of a hamstring injury. He is questionable for Sunday.
- DE Dewayne White was listed as limited for the second straight practice Thursday because of a hamstring injury. He is questionable for Sunday.
- DT Grady Jackson did not practice Thursday after being limited Wednesday. That has been the routine for the 36-year-old veteran who had off-season knee surgery.
- WR Eric Fowler did not practice Thursday because of a knee injury. He was limited Wednesday.