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Lions star receiver Kenny Golladay 'close' to returning to game action

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

If there was one positive to come out of the Detroit Lions' 42-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers, it's that the team didn't suffer any of the serious injuries that plagued the league this weekend.

Not that the Lions needed any more injury woes. Heading into the matchup with the Packers, the Lions were already down two starting offensive lineman, their top two cornerbacks and star wide receiver Kenny Golladay. 

Kenny Golladay

But heading into Week 3, the team is optimistic it will be getting the last player on that list back in the fold. 

"Yeah, I expect us to keep pushing forward and (the) arrow (is pointing) up on that, so we'll see what it looks like," Lions coach Matt Patricia said. "I think we're close and we'll get him out and get him in some of those situations (at practice). A lot of times, it's just how does the body react after we put guys in those situations that we really try to gauge because you certainty don't want maybe to do something and have it in a weaker state and then go out and have an injury that's maybe more substantial after."

Golladay led the NFL in touchdown catches a year ago, and has topped 1,000 yards each of the past two seasons, but has been sidelined by a hamstring injury the first two games this year. 

And while no one wants to make excuses — in part because fans have no interest in hearing them — it's been a tough blow for Detroit's offense to absorb. 

More: Lions' problems are 'from the neck up,' LB Reggie Ragland says

“(He's) another threat out there," Marvin Jones said Sunday. "There’s not a lot of things that teams can do when he’s out there, in terms of like doubling or doing a different formation and stuff like that. He’s just another threat and that’ll help us.

With Golladay out, rookie Quintez Cephus has stepped into a much larger role than would have been expected to start the year. And he's done reasonably well with the playing time, catching six passes for 97 yards. Marvin Hall has also seen additional reps, catching a touchdown against the Packers. 

Patricia said the expectation is consistent — whoever is put on the field is expected to execute their assignments. But the coach did acknowledge Golladay has a unique ability to affect opposing defenses that can't be replicated easily.

"I think when you have players on the field that really impact the vertical game of a defense, you might start to see really specific coverages in those situations to try to make sure they don't get run by or run through," Patricia said. "When those players aren't on the field, those coverages tend to go away."

Golladay is in the final year of his contract and is set to be a free agent at the end of the season.