Lions could be relying on several backups

The Lions have several key injury concerns, including their most dynamic playmakers on offense, as they prepare for the Vikings.

The last we heard, Matthew Stafford is healthy.

Aside from that, when the Lions come to TCF Bank Stadium Sunday, there are potentially a slew of a questions marks that will be coming on the plane Sunday.

As Viking Update speculated yesterday, it is looking more and more like the Vikings will be preparing for a Lions team without Calvin Johnson. Multiple reports are hinting that Johnson may sit a week or two in order to get treatment and allow his ailing ankle to heal. While it’s looking increasingly likely that Megatron will not be playing the Vikings, one has to wonder how long the Lions will err on the side of caution when it comes to his recovery time.

After Sunday’s game, the Lions host the high-octane New Orleans Saints. The week after that, Detroit heads to London to play the Falcons before their bye week the first weekend in November. For multiple reasons, there should be an accelerated timetable on that. Without Johnson, the Lions offense is missing its most dynamic component, but the offensive question marks don’t end there.

On Sunday, the Lions were without running backs Joique Bell and Theo Riddick, their Nos. 2 and 3 running backs. Bell is hopeful he can return this week, but it will be a day-to-day situation. During their loss to Buffalo, starting RB Reggie Bush suffered an ankle injury that has him questionable for Sunday’s game with the Vikings. Down the stretch, fourth RB George Winn was carrying the mail in his NFL debut. If the Lions are to have a running game, Bell needs to get healthy because Winn was the last back standing last week.

Given the circumstances facing the Lions offense, the Vikings will have two game plans in place – one designed to stop their two most dynamic playmakers (Johnson and Bush) and one designed to deal with the next men up.

The Vikings can’t get overly confident. That seemed to be the case with Atlanta when they got gashed by Teddy Bridgewater, Matt Asiata, Jerick McKinnon and Jarius Wright. They didn’t see explosive plays coming from that group and were mistaken. However, given the current state of the Lions offense, the Vikings could be experiencing the best of both worlds – a dome team that has a tendency to struggle outdoors on the road (sound familiar?) when at full strength and one that is chartering unfamiliar waters without its two most dangerous weapons.

In a second-half collapse in which they that had neither Megatron nor Bush, the Lions fell apart and lost at home to Buffalo, denying the team the chance to get off to a 4-1 start and pull themselves clear of the rest of the teams in the NFC North. With the Vikings, Saints and Falcons on the schedule prior to Detroit’s bye week, there will be a lot of pressure for the backups to make their impact felt because, much like the Vikings offense without Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph and Matt Cassel, the Lions are facing an uphill climb with perceived backups to get the job done.


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