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Tate, Ngata return to Lions practice; Levy still out

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Lions defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, picked up in the offseason to help after the loss of Ndamukong Suh, returned to practice Thursday.

Allen Park — The Lions welcomed wide receiver Golden Tate (quad) and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (shoulder) back at practice Thursday, and even though both players were limited, their return is a good sign for their availability for Sunday’s game in Minnesota.

Linebacker DeAndre Levy (hip) and tight end Brandon Pettigrew (hamstring) were the only two players who sat practice Thursday.

Obviously, the Lions need Levy back as quickly as possible because he’s one of their top defensive players, but the team has not publicly declared his timetable for a return.

Pettigrew suffered his injury in the fourth quarter of last week’s loss to the San Diego Chargers. If he cannot play, Eric Ebron would likely have a larger role, Tim Wright would be active and the Lions might use a sixth offensive lineman as an extra blocker instead of a tight end.

Cornerback Darius Slay (ankle) was limited for the second day in a row, but appears likely to play Sunday. Guard Larry Warford (ankle) and defensive tackle Caraun Reid (ankle) were both limited, but look to be on track to play Sunday.

If Warford starts at right guard Sunday, Manny Ramirez would likely move to left guard with first-round pick Laken Tomlinson being the top interior backup and possibly playing some snaps as a sixth offensive lineman.

Right tackle LaAdrian Waddle (elbow) was listed as a full participant Thursday after not being listed Wednesday. For now, it looks like Cornelius Lucas will start at right tackle Sunday, but that could change.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford (right upper arm) was still wearing a protective sleeve on his throwing arm, but participated fully.

Extra point

The Lions cut wide receiver Saalim Hakim from the practice squad.