Injured Lions QB Goff misses practice, backup Boyle takes first-team reps

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff didn't practice on Wednesday due to the oblique injury he suffered last weekend, but he remains remains cautiously optimistic he'll be cleared ahead of Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.

"I’m usually a fast healer, but we’ll have to see," Goff said. "Tomorrow I’ll have a better indication than I did today, and Friday is the same way and as we go on.”

Goff suffered the strain in the first quarter, when launching a deep pass to wide receiver Kalif Raymond. Despite the pain, the team opted to keep him in the contest after consulting with him, position coach Mark Brunell and the training staff. 

The injury was evaluated more closely on Monday and a determination was made to hold Goff out of practice on Wednesday and proceed with caution. 

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) plays against the Pittsburgh Steelers during an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in Pittsburgh.

"Look, we're just taking it day-to-day. He's going to sit today and we'll reassess tomorrow, see how he's feeling," Campbell said. "... There's pain management to it, and some of it will be if we can get it to calm down a little bit where it's more manageable, where he feels like he can step into the throw and really put a lot of zing on it. 

"I think it's twofold, it is the pain, but it's calming it down to where the pain doesn't affect the torque you're trying to put on the trunk. I think as fast as we can get it to calm down, the better he'll be."

Combined with the inclement conditions in Pittsburgh, Goff had one of the least productive performances of his career. At the end of regulation, he had just 54 yards passing on 22 attempts, finishing 14-of-25 with 114 yards and zero touchdowns in the 16-16 tie with the Steelers. 

Immediately after the game, Goff insisted the injury hadn't impacted his ability to perform.  

"If I couldn't have thrown, I wouldn't have gone (out)," Goff said. "I don't want to sit up here and say I was hurt and whatever, make excuses, but it was bothering me. But I felt like I could compete and throw fine. And I felt like I did. It didn't feel like it was a hindrance at any point."

But by the next morning, he acknowledged he was more sore than anticipated. He said he'd only play against the Browns if he didn't have any limitations throwing the ball. 

"Yeah, if I can throw it as hard as I want to and it doesn't pull on me then I can go," Goff said. “... If I feel like I am not able to perform my job, then I shouldn’t be out there. Until then, I’m going to fight and scratch and claw to be out there because I believe in myself that way.”

For subscribers: Lions film review: The good, bad and ugly from the offense vs. Steelers

In Goff's stead, Campbell said Tim Boyle will handle the majority of first-team practice reps to start the week.

The backup quarterback remains on injured reserve after suffering a thumb injury that required surgery during the preseason, but he is eligible to rejoin the active roster after returning to practice last week. The team has an open roster spot after waiving receiver Geronimo Allison on Monday. 

"He looked good, worked his way back in there," Campbell said about Boyle. "There again, it was scout team is what he was doing, but he looked good, he looked comfortable and was throwing it well. You can tell the finger looks like it's good, he's recovered."

Undrafted out of Eastern Kentucky in 2018, Boyle spent his first three seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He's never started an NFL game, only making a handful of appearances in mop-up duty for the Packers. 

Prior to signing with the Lions, Boyle was a preseason standout with the Packers. In 2019, he had the league's best passer rating during the exhibition slate, throwing for 356 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions. 

He wasn't nearly as effective with the Lions this preseason, completing 22 of his 39 attempts for 135 yards and one score. Still, Campbell recently noted Boyle had maintained a slight edge over David Blough in the backup quarterback competition. 

With Boyle out, Blough has served as Goff's backup the first nine games this season. But despite two blowout losses, and the starter's injury on Sunday, he's only been called upon once, in the closing minutes against Philadelphia. He played four snaps without throwing a pass in that game. 

For his career, Blough has appeared in seven games, starting five as an undrafted rookie in 2019. In that limited action, he's completed 54.3% of his throws with four touchdowns and seven interceptions, going winless as a starter. 

Goff, meanwhile, has been a model of durability during his six-year NFL career, missing just one start due to injury, when he suffered a broken thumb late last season. 

"Your number one ability is availability and I've always taken pride in that," Goff said. "Had to miss one game last year with my thumb. Was able to come back next week and play in the next game, but I take pride in it. I think it's important for the quarterback to display that. If I ever feel like I can't physically do my job, then I can't be out there."

In his first year with the Lions, he's struggled, posting his worst production since his rookie season. Through nine games, Goff has tossed eight touchdowns to six interceptions, while posting a passer rating of 84.0. That ranks 27th among qualifying players, ahead of three rookies, two backups and Carolina's Sam Darnold.

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jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers