Allen Park — Lions wide receiver Golden Tate suffered a quad injury on his second punt return in Sunday’s game, and although he finished the game, he still has to be cleared by doctors and coaches for Week 2.
And on Thursday, coach Jim Caldwell said any injury related to Tate’s punt returns won’t determine how the Lions deploy him the rest of the season.
“It’s not two-hand touch,” he said. “You can get hit from a scrimmage play as well. It doesn’t really matter in that regard because it’s 100 percent injury rate and things happen.
“So, we look at it week to week depending upon what we think we need to get done. There will probably be times you’ll see him back there again.”
Tate did not practice Wednesday, though he was on the field watching the receivers during the 20-minute portion open to the media.
“Whatever I need to do to get back, I’m going to do,” he said Thursday. “Whatever the plan with the coaching staff and the doctors, they’ll be able to tell you better than I can. I’m just going to keep rehabbing as much as I can and they’re going to make a game-time decision — or whenever they make it — I’ll hopefully be ready.
Tate described the injury he suffered as “just football.”
“That could have happened on offense as well,” he said. “The guy just shot his gun and guessed right. If he doesn’t make that tackle, I might still be running.”
Caldwell disputed a question that suggested Lions coaches didn’t want to use Tate on punt returns due to injury risk in 2014. Although he was one of the top punt returners for the Seattle Seahawks in 2013, the Lions had Jeremy Ross return punts and kickoffs last season, but Tate had one punt return in the playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
“We had a return man that we thought would do a nice job for us,” Caldwell said of why the Lions used Ross over Tate.
On Sunday, Tate had returns of 20 and 14 yards and said after the game his goal on each one is to give the offense an extra first down, which he accomplished.
If Tate doesn’t return punts Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, rookie running back Ameer Abdullah or wide receivers Lance Moore or TJ Jones could be options. Abdullah returned kickoffs in Week 1 and had a couple of opportunities on punts in the preseason.