Allen Park — The status of Detroit Lions interim starting quarterback Jeff Driskel remains up in the air two days before the team's Thanksgiving game with the Chicago Bears.
Driskel is still dealing with a hamstring injury, which even if he's medically cleared to play for Thursday, could significantly hamper his mobility, a key component of his skill set. Lions coach Matt Patricia acknowledged Driskel remains sore on Tuesday and he's considered day-to-day.
“Yeah, it’s definitely gotten better each and every day," Driskel said. "That’s just a testament to the guys in the training room — all of those guys that are here all hours of the day working with us. Just doing what you can to get your body right and be out there. That’s part of the game and that’s part of this league is getting your body good to go each and every week.”
The Lions haven't shown any urgency signing another quarterback this week, suggesting a level of confidence he'll be good to go against the Bears.
The evaluation of Driskel's preparedness is unique since the team has dialed down its typical practice routine because of the short week.
"We’ll do some light jogging today just to kind of flush out the systems and get the muscles ready to go from that standpoint," Patricia said. "That’s important for us through the course of the week, but nothing that’s really that strenuous on the body just because it is such a short week. I do think that is a little bit of a challenge."
If Driskel remains hobbled, the Lions could turn to David Blough, an undrafted rookie who was traded to the Lions just prior to the start of the regular season. Patricia confirmed that Blough has been getting some reps with the first-team offense since moving into a backup role once Matthew Stafford was sidelined by his back injury.
Bears coach Matt Nagy said his team is planning on Driskel, but will also develop contingencies within the game plan in case they see Blough.
"I think you just have to be able to kind of prepare for Driskel and then obviously we’ll have a plan for both quarterbacks," Nagy said on a Tuesday conference call. "That’s just how it goes. That’s how part of this thing is and we ran into that the last time that we played with Stafford getting hurt and Driskel coming in."
An additional element that merits consideration this week, given there's just one healthy quarterback on the roster, is the Lions' emergency quarterback situation.
Even though it's been a few years since he's played the position, tight end Logan Thomas said he takes a snap each from centers Graham Glasgow and Logan and Frank Ragnow once every other week, just to be prepared for the doomsday situation.
"Nothing has been said to me, but I'm always studying the game plan pretty well," Thomas said. "Shoot, if I have to go back there, I'm going to just sling it and whatever happens, happens."
Defensive end Trey Flowers returned to practice in a limited capacity and center Frank Ragnow went from a limited to full participant, as both make progress returning from concussions.
Return man Jamal Agnew (ankle), cornerback Rashaan Melvin (ribs) and wide receiver Marvin Hall (foot) remain sidelined. Without Hall, the Lions have just three healthy receivers and could need to promote one off the practice squad prior to Thursday's game. Options include Chris Lacy and sixth-round draft pick Travis Fulgham.
After Dallas fans made their presence felt in the last game at Ford Field on Nov. 17, the typical noise of boycotts, no-shows and fan consternation is again following the Lions into Thursday.
Thanksgiving has been the scene of some famous low points for Lions coaches: Steve Mariucci’s last game as coach was a 27-7 Thanksgiving loss to Atlanta on 2005, and Jim Schwartz botched the Houston game in 2012, attempting to challenge after an automatically reviewed scoring play, earning a penalty and ensuring an 81-yard Justin Forsett touchdown. Rod Marinelli went 0-3 on Thanksgiving, his last holiday game being a 47-10 blowout loss to Tennessee.
The national spotlight is on Detroit for the Thanksgiving game, but Patricia said he’s not worried about the growing hostility as the Lions prepare for Thursday with a 3-7-1 record.
“We really just focus on the game and trying to make sure that we go out and play the best game that we can,” Patricia said. “We know how great our fans are and certainly from that aspect of it, we’re hopefully going to keep them cheering in the right direction.”
Sharpened by Iron
Bo Scarbrough said he’s never played on Thanksgiving, though there were some tough practices in Tuscaloosa that week preparing for the Iron Bowl.
The former Alabama running back had a coming-out party of sorts against Auburn as a sophomore, the first of four straight games with 90 yards rushing or more.
He said there was nothing extra said to young players by coaches or veterans heading into Thursday’s Thanksgiving game.
“Business as usual, I want to win the game like everyone else around here,” Scarbrough said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s on Thanksgiving, or Christmas or New Year’s, I just want to win. And I think that if we win, everybody around here will be happy. Even if they had some (MREs), I still think, they just want to win the game.”
Scarbrough, who said last week that Adrian Peterson was his favorite back growing up, had the future Hall of Famer's jersey hanging in one of his lockers Tuesday with a long personalized message.
Folks are starting to serve notice on the rookie, who has 153 yards in his first two NFL games.
“I let them know that I’m still here, I never left,” Scarbrough said. “I was just never given the opportunity the right way. Bob (Quinn) and coach (Patricia) gave me the opportunity that I needed.”
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer