By Chris Morgan
Last week, the Lions scored a huge road win against the Chicago Bears. They have now swept Chicago, and they are currently 6-3—the NFC North could be theirs. This week, the Lions visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers. This has been a disappointing season for the Steelers, although things have been looking slightly better recently. Picking up another road win for the Lions would be big for them, and it seems they are going to have most of their key players this week, but a couple of notable players are questionable.
The offense, at least, appears like they will be fine. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson did sit out Wednesday’s practice because of his prior knee issues, but this has been the case recently. He’s played in Detroit’s last couple of games and has looked fine. There is no reason to be concerned about Megatron at the moment.
Wide receiver Nate Burleson is questionable as he attempts to return from his broken arm. Having him back would be nice for the Lions, although they’ve managed without him recently. Offensive tackle Corey Hilliard practiced for the first time since injuring his knee against the Bengals. However, LaAdrian Waddle has been practicing with the starters, and Waddle seems to have the right tackle job locked down. Hilliard will just provide depth.
Detroit’s only real injury issues are on the defensive side of the ball. Safety Louis Delmas did not practice Wednesday to rest his knee, but that is always the case. He should be able to play barring some setback. However, that may not be the case for either defensive end Ziggy Ansah and cornerback Bill Bentley. Ansah is dealing with an ankle injury, while Bentley has a knee issue. Neither was able to play against the Bears, and both are questionable for this game.
The Steelers have a porous offensive line, so getting to Ben Roethlisberger is fairly easy. The issue is usually getting him down. Having Ansah available to rush the quarterback would be beneficial, although last week the Lions managed without him. They only sacked Cutler twice, but they knocked him down a bunch, and Cutler eventually had to leave the game with an ankle injury to go with his groin injury. Bentley, when he is healthy, plays nickel cornerback, which has become more valuable as passing has increased in the NFL. Detroit does have questions at cornerback too, so not having Bentley could be an issue.
Detroit beat a better team on the road without Ansah and Bentley last week, but that doesn’t mean it will happen again. The Lions barely eked out that win, too, needing to stop the Bears on a two-point conversion. The Lions will have most, and perhaps all, of their key offensive players this week. Will they have two of their defensive starters? It seems unlikely, but the possibility is still there for either Ansah or Bentley to return, and perhaps both.
- Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (ankle)
- Cornerback Bill Bentley (knee)
- Wide receiver Name Burleson (arm)
- Safety Louis Delmas (knee)
- Offensive tackle Corey Hilliard (knee)
- Wide receiver Calvin Johnson (knee)
For more Lions news and updates, visit Lions Central.
Chris Morgan has been a diehard Detroit Lions fan through the good (Barry Sanders) and the bad (Matt Millen) and that love has led him to take jobs writing about sports, including as a fantasy sports “expert.” His work can be found on Examiner.com. .