Detroit — The Lions will be giving some young players an opportunity to make an impact in their pivotal game against the Denver Broncos Sunday night at Ford Field.
Linebacker DeAndre Levy and tight end Brandon Pettigrew highlight the players who are inactive for the Lions, but defensive tackle Caraun Reid, wide receiver TJ Jones and defensive end Devin Taylor are among the players who will be available.
In addition to Levy and Pettigrew, wide receiver Corey Fuller, defensive end Phillip Hunt, interior offensive lineman Taylor Boggs, offensive tackle Corey Robinson and defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo are inactive for the Lions.
Despite LaAdrian Waddle being active for the second straight week, the Lions said before the game that Cornelius Lucas will again start at right tackle. Lucas struggled in the first two games and is dealing with an ankle injury, so the coaches clearly aren't 100 percent comfortable with Waddle — who had knee surgery in January — being a starter yet.
Levy has yet to play this season and hasn't practiced in more than a month as he continues to deal with a hip injury. The Lions have struggled mightily covering tight ends without Levy and have been susceptible on short passes to receivers and running backs, too. Josh Bynes will start at weak-side linebacker, but the Lions will likely continue rotating multiple linebackers in different substitution packages.
Pettigrew will miss his second straight game after suffering a hamstring injury in Week 1. Eric Ebron will start at tight end with Tim Wright as the only backup, and rookie fullback Michael Burton is listed as a starter in place of Pettigrew. The Lions could use an extra offensive lineman to replace Pettigrew's blocking.
Fuller is inactive after having zero targets the first two games and struggling on special teams. Without Fuller, the Lions will have Jones — a sixth-round pick in 2014 — active for the first time in his career, though he'll probably be fourth on the depth chart.
Reid is active for the first time this season after dealing with a high ankle sprain since the second exhibition game. He should be the top defensive tackle off the bench. The coaches chose rookie Gabe Wright over Cudjo as the No. 4 tackle.
Taylor will be available after being inactive last week. The Lions instead benched Hunt after he struggled in the run game in Week 2.
For the Broncos, former Michigan offensive tackle Michael Schofield is among the inactive players. Quarterback Trevor Siemian, safety Omar Bolden, cornerback Kayvon Webster, guard Shelley Smith, tight end James Casey and defensive end Kenny Anunike also won't play.