Allen Park — The Detroit Lions are banged up at some key spots, but if you were expecting coach Jim Caldwell to uncharacteristically provide details on the situation, you’re going to be disappointed.
But according to multiple reports, the Lions are expected to be without Ameer Abdullah for the immediate future. After being initially diagnosed with a sprained foot, following the team’s loss to Tennessee on Sunday, the running back is headed to North Carolina for a second opinion from specialist Robert Anderson.
Abdullah is off to a strong start to the season, gaining 101 yards on 18 carries, while adding another 57 yards on five receptions. He also had a 14-yard touchdown called back against the Titans because of a holding penalty.
In his stead, Detroit split backfield duties between Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington. The duo combined for 68 yards on 15 carries in the loss to Tennessee. It also opens the door for Zach Zenner to be active for the first time this season.
“That’s not the way I would have liked to see it happen,” Zenner said. “My preparation won’t change. I’ve been preparing every week like I’m going to play. I’m not going to have to change anything or make any adjustments.”
Washington, the team’s seventh-round draft pick, is in line for a bigger role. A dynamic playmaker during the preseason, he showcased his big-play potential against the Titans with a 28-yard carry.
“He’s a pretty powerful guy,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “He’s fairly close to 230 pounds. and he’s got speed. He runs behind his pads, but it’s just been a sampling of him right now at this point in time. We’ll see what happens if he gets an opportunity to get a few more carries, but he has ability.”
The Lions also have questions at linebacker and defensive end leading up to next Sunday’s matchup with the Green Bay Packers.
Against the Titans, the Lions finished with three healthy linebackers. DeAndre Levy, the leader of the group, was inactive for the contest with a quad injury. Caldwell wouldn’t discuss the severity of the injury and even whether it could potentially be season-ending.
“We’ll see,” Caldwell said.
The Lions also lost Levy’s replacement, rookie Antwione Williams (thigh), and starting strong side linebacker Kyle Van Noy (calf) to injury against the Titans. The team had to lean heavily on defensive end Brandon Copeland and recent waiver claim, Thurston Armbrister, down the stretch.
If any combination of Levy, Van Noy or Williams aren’t able to practice this week, the Lions will need to add linebacking depth to the roster. That could be practice squader Steve Longa or a veteran free agent. The team worked out linebackers on Monday.
“You can use stuff like that as an excuse, and that kind of thing, which we refuse to do,” Caldwell said. “We just got to be able to make certain that we’ve got guys that will step in and do the job, which we do.”
Up front, defensive end Ziggy Ansah’s status is in doubt after an ankle injury knocked him out of Sunday’s contest after just three snaps. In his absence, Kerry Hyder and Devin Taylor stepped up and played bigger roles against the Titans, combining for 2.5 sacks.
“Hyder does what he usually does,” Caldwell said. “He fights and scratches and digs and made some plays for us. Devin also played well, played tough, showed up. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. The guys fought and they hung in there, just didn’t make enough plays overall. It didn’t necessarily have to be them, but I’m just talking about overall as a team we just didn’t make enough plays.”
The Packers are also dealing with some injury issues. Top cornerback Sam Shields was unable to play in loss to the Vikings this week because of a concussion. The team also lost defensive tackle Letroy Guilon during the game to a strained MCL, hurting the team’s depth along an already thin defensive line.