The Lions welcomed two starters back to practice this week, but right tackle LaAdrian Waddle and defensive end Jason Jones won’t play in Friday’s exhibition against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“You won’t see them,” coach Jim Caldwell said Wednesday.
Waddle and Jones both started training camp on the physically unable to perform list, but the Lions activated them Sunday, allowing them to practice on a limited basis for four days. However, the coaches won’t rush either player back as both will play crucial roles in 2015.
Jones underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in June, but looked healthy in some of the brief pass rush drills open to the media this week.
Waddle had surgery in January to repair a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. Although Cornelius Lucas has some starting experience, Waddle should take the starting right tackle job once he’s up to speed.
Warford to sit Friday
Among the other starters that will sit Friday is right guard Larry Warford, which should mean first-round pick Laken Tomlinson will make his first start of the exhibition season.
Although Taylor Boggs could be a surprise option as he competes for a roster spot, the Lions will most likely play Tomlinson at left guard and move Manny Ramirez to Warford’s place at right guard.
“I think he’s in a good spot,” offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said of Tomlinson. “Again, he’s a rookie so he can always get better and I think he is getting better.”
The third exhibition game is typically the one teams treat like a regular-season game, and if Warford’s high-ankle sprain lingers, Tomlinson and Ramirez would both start — with Travis Swanson at center — after competing head to head for the left guard job this summer.
As tough as it is to lose Warford for any amount of time, Tomlinson should see more playing time in practice and the games as a result.
“He’ll get more reps, which will always help a young player,” Lombardi said.
Defense missing pieces
In addition to Jones, defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (ankle) likely won’t play Friday after missing practice all week. With Haloti Ngata (hamstring) still on the non-football injury list, that means defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker will be the only projected regular-season starter playing against the Jaguars.
Defensive tackle Caraun Reid, who’s also dealing with a high-ankle sprain, surely won’t play either. He’s competed with Walker for a starting job, but the setback should tilt things in Walker’s favor.
All of the injuries, along with the caution for Jones, will leave the Lions with just one of their top defensive linemen. Darryl Tapp should continue to start at end for Jones, and Devin Taylor or Phillip Hunt likely will start for Ansah.