By: Will Burchfield
For the second straight game and the 11th time this season, the Lions will be without their starting offensive line.
Both center Travis Swanson (concussion) and right tackle Rick Wagner (ankle) have been ruled out for Saturday’s game versus the Bears.
Corey Robinson is likely to take Wagner’s place, as he did last Sunday versus the Buccaneers. Left guard Graham Glasgow will likely fill in for Swanson, as he did in Week 12 versus the Vikings.
In Glasgow’s place, the Lions will probably turn to Joe Dahl. After spending the first 14 weeks of the season on injured reserve with a leg injury, Dahl returned to practice last week. He was a fifth-round pick of the Lions in 2016.
“He’s been in the system a while, and he’s progressed physically,” said Jim Caldwell on Thursday. “Obviously, the mental growth that comes along with being here over time, I think Joe will perform well.”
Right guard T.J. Lang, who missed last week’s game with a foot injury, returned to practice on Thursday as a limited participant. He’s listed as questionable for Saturday, but there’s hope he’ll be good to go.
Either way, the Lions are prepared to turn to their ninth offensive line combination this season.
In all likelihood, it will be Taylor Decker at left tackle, Dahl at left guard, Glasgow at center, Lang at right guard and Robinson at right tackle.
The Lions’ starting offensive line of Decker-Glasgow-Swanson-Lang-Wagner, which looked like a strength when it was assembled in the offseason, has been together for just two games this year: Week 11 versus the Bears, a 27-24 win, and Week 12 versus the Vikings, a 30-23 loss.
Last week’s patchwork offensive line held up well in pass protection. Matthew Stafford threw 44 times and wasn’t sacked once.
The Lions will need more of the same in yet another must-win game on Saturday.