By: Will Burchfield

DeAndre Levy returned to practice two weeks ago. 14 days later, here’s what we know about his status for the rest of the season: “We’ll see.”

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That’s what Jim Caldwell said two days after Levy’s first practice, when asked if the linebacker had made strides in his recovery. And that’s what Caldwell said today, when asked if the Lions plan to ramp up Levy’s practice routine to prepare him for game action.

Then, when asked what the team needs to see from Levy in order for him to play in a game, Caldwell went back to the well: “We’ll see.”

As in, we’ll see what it is we need to see. As in, we don’t really know. Or we don’t want to tell you.

Whatever the translation, the Lions’ evasiveness regarding Levy’s health has given life to a very real question. Will Levy play again this season? Heck, will he play again ever?

“I think that there’s time and a rhythm to everything. And I think whenever he’s ready, he’ll be ready,” Caldwell said last Wednesday. “We’re not praying for a miracle in that regard. If it happens, the good Lord has him ready to go, he’ll be ready to go.”

Levy didn’t play the following day versus the Vikings, of course, and the Lions seem to have little idea if he’ll play this Sunday versus the Saints. Since the All-Pro linebacker returned to practice, Caldwell has suggested his recovery is a matter of fate.

“We’d be happy to get him back whenever he’s back,” Caldwell said on Nov. 17.

“Whenever he gets back, I just think he’ll help us,” he said on Nov. 21.

“We’ll let things go as they go and see what happens,” he said on Nov. 22.

The team may have a clearer picture of Levy’s health behind closed doors, not to mention a firmer timeframe for his recovery. But as far as the Lions are letting on in public, Levy is as much a mystery to them as he is to everyone else.

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Except for the doctors.

“Working with him, they make a determination on how much he can do,” Caldwell said the day after Levy’s return to practice. “If you see him in a ballgame, that means he’s ready to roll.”

Levy was upgraded from doubtful to questionable before last week’s game versus the Vikings. It’ll be interesting to see – and indeed we will see – where Levy is listed on this Friday’s injury report, but even these details seem unreliable as clues. Because each time Levy clears a hurdle in regard to his recovery, the Lions raise another one.

When asked how long it would take Levy to get back into game-shape if were to return to practice, Caldwell said, on Nov. 16, “Not certain. We’ll see whenever he gets there.”

But since getting there, the team’s position hasn’t changed. When asked on Nov. 22 if Levy had been practicing long enough for him to get re-acclimated, Caldwell responded, “Everybody is a little bit different.”

Levy’s case is more than a little bit different, of course. He’s played in just one game this season and has missed 25 of the Lions’ past 27 games dating back to 2015. He has rebuked the NFL for its laissez-faire attitude toward player safety and seems uniquely averse to risking his long-term health in order to keep playing football.

What’s more, the $33 million extension he signed in August 2015 came with $20 million guaranteed, leaving Levy little incentive to play out the duration of the contract. If he walks away before the deal expires, he won’t exactly do so with empty pockets.

The choice to play is Levy’s. And perhaps that’s why his recovery has been such an enigma. When it comes to his inner thoughts, the Lions are no privier, no more perceptive than anyone else.

And thus that question grows more tangled still: Will Levy play again this season?

Heck, will he play again ever?

The one sure thing, at least in Caldwell’s eyes, is that Levy won’t miss a beat when (if) he returns. When asked if he expects Levy to perform at a Pro-Bowl caliber level, Caldwell replied, “Certainly.”

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If only more certainties existed.