Alex Anzalone has become the latest Detroit Lions player to be bitten by the proverbial injury bug.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell announced Monday that his starting linebacker will miss the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury. Anzalone started early in Detroit’s 30-12 win over Arizona on Sunday.
“It’s a tough business,” Campbell said. “I don’t feel like we think it’s a major injury, but it’s going to knock him out for the year. So he’s had the shoulder, but we don’t think that’s a problem. long term. It’s just that with three games to go, we know it’s probably going to eliminate him for this season.
Anzalone completes his first year as a Lion with 14 games played, it all starts. During that span, he had 49 total tackles, one tackle for loss and one interception. The long-haired Pennsylvania native brought veteran leadership to a linebacking room that remains very young.
“He’s been rock solid, man,” Campbell said. “He’s been one of those guys, man, he’s been steady as a rock. He’s really our quarterback on defense, and that’s going to hurt.
Campbell will now look to Jalen Reeves-Maybin to take over defensive responsibilities. He too suffered injuries recently but was forced to play 72 snaps after Anzalone’s exit.
“Now (Jalen) Reeves-Maybin has to step in and take the green dot,” Campbell said. “Which isn’t something he normally does, and our plan was, with him and Alex knowing that they were both coming back from injuries, just give them some stuff to get them back into the flow and not, we didn’t want that. be bossy and yet Reeves-Maybin has to play 72 plays, man. And, he’s the green dot, and he played it all. It wasn’t perfect, but I tell you what, the guy made a ton of plays for us.
CREATIVITY ON ATTACK
On Sunday, the Lions scored 30 points on offense for the first time since Week 1. Quarterback Jared Goff led the charge, completing 21 of 26 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns. He connected on kills with rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds and Jason Cabinda.
Moving on to the last three games, Campbell said his team has plenty of room to grow on the offensive side.
“They’re starting to fit together,” Campbell said. “Between the quarterback and them adding (Craig) Reynolds, I talked about Ben Johnson just providing clarity. Look, I think (wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle-El) is doing a great job with those receivers. There are so many little details in what we did that just needed to be refined. I think it’s fair, the trust is starting to grow between all these guys in the passing game.
Campbell took over play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn ahead of the team’s Week 11 game in Pittsburgh. Since then, he has evolved and shown creativity in attack.
Against Denver in Week 14, it was a false backhand that cleared receiver Kalif Raymond for a touchdown. On Sunday, the Lions played a play featuring St. Brown feigning a run block, then passing his defenseman en route to a 37-yard touchdown.
“It was a game that we actually played this week,” St. Brown said. “Basically like a little stealth exit, I block on one end, taking the defense off me and it works perfectly against the zone, because they took the road on the left side. And (then) I snuck out and Jared threw a great ball.
The rookie receiver told reporters Monday that he likes the creativity of the offense. He was recently used out of the backfield and was even carried away in Detroit’s win over the Cardinals.
“When they put me in the backfield, they like to pair me up with a linebacker,” St. Brown said. “They feel like I can win this one-on-one. They gave me a little draw, because we were 100% successful when I was in the backfield. So they gave me a little draw to overthrow the defense. But it’s good. I like to do everything.
–Campbell noted cornerback Amani Oruwariye’s third-quarter interception was the biggest play in Sunday’s win.
“It just stifled any opportunity for them to regain momentum,” Campbell said. “Or (to) start it at all. It was huge.
–Starting running back D’Andre Swift could return to practice this week, after missing the last three games with a sprained shoulder.
“I still think we take it week by week, day by day,” Campbell said. “Then again, I know that since (Monday) morning he feels better than he did last week. He feels better than he was on Saturday, when we worked with him. Our plan is to get him back on track. training this week and see how it feels.
This article was produced by the staff of Sports Illustrated/All Lions. To learn more, visit si.com/nfl/lions.