Allen Park — The Lions placed second-year right tackle LaAdrian Waddle on injured reserve Wednesday after he suffered a left knee injury in last Sunday's win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Now, the team will rely heavily on undrafted rookie Cornelius Lucas to secure the right side of the line as it prepares for a playoff run.
"I think the game's starting to slow down for him and he's doing a really good job," left tackle Riley Reiff said of Lucas. "I'm excited for him."
To replace Waddle on the 53-man roster, the Lions claimed cornerback Josh Thomas off waivers from the New York Jets. The Jets cut Thomas, a fifth-round pick by the Cowboys in 2011, on Tuesday. He said on Twitter he couldn't hand in his playbook because it and his passport were stolen.
The 6-foot-9, 325-pound Lucas has experience playing right tackle this year in the four games Waddle missed earlier this season, three with a calf injury and one with a concussion. He also finished the game Sunday after a cart took Waddle off the field.
Although Garrett Reynolds started the first four games Waddle missed with Lucas sharing time, Lucas will hold the job moving forward.
"It's really exciting," Lucas said. "There's a lot going through my mind right now but at the end of the day it's just football."
Lucas made his only start this year at left tackle when Reiff sat with a knee injury on Thanksgiving. Though left tackle is Lucas' natural position, he said he feels more comfortable at right tackle after some playing time this year.
Even though Lucas is a rookie with limited experience, he said he doesn't approach the game like a young player.
"I never viewed myself as a rookie, just lightly seasoned," Lucas said.
…The Lions practiced outside for the first time in more than a month to prepare for Sunday's game against the Bears at Soldier Field.
…Defensive tackle Nick Fairley (knee) was out and will likely miss his seventh game in a row. The hope remains that Fairley will rejoin the Lions for Week 17 or the postseason.
…Defensive end George Johnson (illness) was also out.
…Wide receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle), linebacker Ashlee Palmer (quad), safety Don Carey (ankle) and cornerback Mohammed Seisay (hamstring) were limited.