Lions notes: Goff expected to play against Packers; no offseason surgery needed for Swift

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park  — After testing out his injured knee throughout the week, the Detroit Lions are expecting to have quarterback Jared Goff back for Sunday's season finale against the Green Bay Packers. 

"Yeah, I'd say it's probable," coach Dan Campbell said before Friday's practice. "He got back into rhythm Wednesday, I thought yesterday he looked even better and we expect him to continue to improve today. So I think we'll see Goff this weekend."

Officially, Goff is listed as questionable for the contest. He missed the past two games with the bone bruise, although he was also unavailable for the first after testing positive for COVID. While out, Tim Boyle made his second and third starts, completing 46 of his 71 passes for 449 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions in road losses to Atlanta and Seattle. 

Lions quarterback Jared Goff.

Goff, who was playing his best football of the season when he was knocked from the lineup, which included earning NFC offensive player of the week honors against Arizona on Dec. 19, should provide a boost to Detroit's offense against the Packers. But he also faces the prospect of being without both of his starting offensive tackles, Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell, who landed on the COVID list Monday. 

More: How Saints turned around a historically bad defense and what Lions can learn from it

Decker and Sewell are eligible to rejoin the Lions on Saturday, but need to be symptom free. According to Campbell, both offensive linemen are all still experiencing symptoms as of Friday. 

"We've been checking on them every day and they all have symptoms," Campbell said. "We'll just have to see how they feel tomorrow (Saturday). Tomorrow, that will be their fifth day, so they can come in and we can check them out, see where they're at, see if it's affected them physically at all, and where their minds are at. If they feel like they can go, and they don't have the symptoms, we're good to go."

Campbell also confirmed the ability of the offensive tackles to get cleared will have no bearing on whether Goff returns. 

"His status is all about his ability to play, not the other guys around him," Campbell said. 

If one or both of the linemen fail to get cleared, the team is expected to turn to Matt Nelson and Will Holden or practice squad veteran Dan Skipper.  

Cautious approach planned

Last week's highly anticipated return of D'Andre Swift to the lineup managed to fall well short of expectations when the Lions dual-threat running back was limited to six touches in the team's 51-29 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. 

Despite position coach Duce Staley implying Swift would be full-go, returning to a normal workload, the back ended up seeing one of his smallest workloads of the season, at least in terms of playing-time percentage. 

This week, Swift revealed it was always the plan to ease him back into action. 

"For the most part I knew I was going to be limited, as far as amount of carries and touches and things like that going into the game," Swift said. "That's kinda what the plan was. But just trying to get back out there and make an impact any way possible."

Swift didn't see the field until Detroit's second series against Seattle, after both Jamaal Williams and Craig Reynolds had registered carries. Still, Swift ended up playing more snaps than the other two backs combined, 36 to 34. 

Running routes on nearly 80% of those snaps — an area Staley had said would be a focus down the stretch — Swift caught only two passes for 7 yards. He also added 32 yards on four carries, fueled by a 31-yard romp at the end of the first half, which matched Detroit's second-longest gain of the afternoon.

Heading into the season finale against Green Bay, Swift expects his role to be similarly muted. 

"I'm not sure as far as what it looks like on the note sheet or a piece of paper, but just talking to the coaches throughout the week, it'll probably be the same process," Swift said. 

That's probably not the worst plan for a player who missed four consecutive games with a shoulder injury, yet remains critically important to the team's potential success the next two years. 

As it currently stands, Swift said he doesn't expect to need surgery after the season. 

"Nah, no surgery is necessary," Swift said. "Just need time to heal. I'll worry about that after the game."

Once he's fully recovered, Swift intends to reconnect with professional trainer Mo Wells in South Florida. 

"Did a lot of running, a lot of conditioning, a lot of full body strength," Swift said about his previous experience working with Wells. "We're looking to do the same thing. Just working on detailing my craft as much as possible, with everything — weights, running, conditioning, routes, everything just detailing my work so I can come back ready for next year." 

"When I was out there (this season), I felt fresh all the time," Swift said. "The Florida heat is different, working out there with Mo. Just going out there and conditioning in the heat, it definitely helped throughout the season. I felt fresh." 

Value in versatility

Among defensive backs who have played at least 50% of their team's defensive snaps, Pro Football Focus ranks Will Harris 140 out of 141. Yet despite this evidence to the contrary, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn remains high on the versatility and ability of the third-year player. 

"Will Harris has a lot of value, as far as a player just in general because he's played every position in the back end that you can imagine," Glenn said. "And there is a lot of value to that because I had a guy like this named P.J. Williams with the Saints and he was just like Will. Actually, he wasn't as good of an athlete as Will, but the one thing that he was, he was very smart. At the drop of a hat, we could put him in a position he didn't get a lot of reps at that week. You see Will doing the same thing."

There's no question Harris has answered the call, regardless of what the Lions have asked him to do this season.

Opening the season as a starting safety, he transitioned to nickel cornerback when rookie starter AJ Parker missed time. More recently, Harris has been playing outside cornerback following season-ending injuries to Jerry Jacobs and Amani Oruwariye. 

Williams, who was drafted in 2016, the same year Glenn started in New Orleans as a defensive backs coach, initially played outside corner for the Saints. By 2019 and 2020, Glenn's last two years with the franchise, Williams was seeing reps at cornerback, nickelback, as well as free and strong safety. 

"When I see the Saints play now, I still see P.J. in all these different spots," Glenn said. "I see Will the same way. And this league has become a league of flexibility, versatility. The more guys you can have like that, that understand what their role is and they can maximize their role — we make sure they're successful in those roles — man, there's value to those types of guys."

Harris, a third-round pick in 2019, will be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2022. 

Injury report 

In addition to Goff, the Lions have ruled out fullback Jason Cabinda (knee) for Sunday's game against the Packers, while listing defensive lineman Michael Brockers (neck), guard Jonah Jackson (elbow/knee), wide receiver Josh Reynolds (thigh), linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (shoulder) and tight end Brock Wright as questionable.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers