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Lions expect D'Andre Swift back this week; Nelson, Benson activated off COVID list

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — After missing four consecutive games with a shoulder injury, there was some thought D'Andre Swift might be done for the year. Instead, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell said he expects the dynamic dual-threat running back to return to action this week against the Seattle Seahawks. 

"He's still got room to grow and we're not going to put him out there until he's healthy," Campbell said. "We feel like he's going to be ready to go this week and he's been wanting to go. I think we feel like we're in a place where, let's go and cut him loose and let's let him continue to grow and get better. That way we go into next year and he's that much better for it."

The Lions expect running back D’Andre Swift to return this week against the Seattle Seahawks.

Some people might struggle to understand Swift's desire to return for two relatively meaningless games for the 2-12-1 Lions, but he explained his motivations on Wednesday. 

"Man, I feel like God put me on this Earth for football, to play football," Swift said. "I love the game so much, so any opportunity I have, whether it's two games, one game, losing record, winning record, I'm going to do my best to just have my foot out there and just play for my teammates, for my brothers. 

"... First and foremost, I want to be able to experience a win with this team," Swift said. "I haven't experienced one with them this season, experience a win. Just looking to get better in every aspect of my game. Like coach said, I'm still learning, I'm still a young player."

Even with being sidelined the past four games, Swift is pacing the Lions in yards from scrimmage, gaining 555 on the ground and another 429 via 56 receptions out of the backfield. He also leads the team's offensive weapons with six touchdowns. 

The second-year back out of Georgia has lived up to his lofty draft status, amassing 1,862 and 16 touchdowns through his first 24 games, while averaging 4.2 yards per carry. The only knock has been his ability to stay on the field. He missed significant time during training camp each of his first two seasons, limiting his early-season role. He's also missed nearly a quarter of the team's regular-season games, sitting three last year and the four this year. 

With Swift out, the Lions still combined to rush for more than 100 yards each of those four games, but averaged greater than 4.0 yards per carry just once. Additionally, no running back has gained more than 22 receiving yards in a game while he's been sidelined. 

In addition to Swift's pending return, the Lions also are getting back offensive tackle Matt Nelson and wide receiver Trinity Benson from the COVID/reserve list. While Benson hasn't been part of the offense for several weeks prior to contracting the virus, Nelson was sorely missed in his role as a blocking tight end. 

Following season-ending injuries to T.J. Hockenson and Shane Zylstra, and Brock Wright landing on the COVID list on Tuesday, the team has had to revamp its tight end group on the fly, signing Jared Pinkney off the Rams practice squad and adding veteran Ross Travis to the practice squad. 

With so little time to get acclimated ahead of Sunday's game against Seattle, it's trending toward Nelson needing to play a bigger role. 

"Certainly having Nelson back, that helps. He can do a little bit of stuff here," Campbell said. "... We just may have to go a different direction than we have been, but you maximize what you have."

Campbell also acknowledged the 316-pound Nelson should be prepared to run a few routes, particularly after last week, when the Lions finished the game with one healthy tight end. 

"He has to be ready to do that, I know that," Campbell said. "After what happened last week, had he been up, he would have been running routes for us."

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers