For Lions, three questions loom at linebacker
When the Lions get back to practice on Tuesday to prepare for the Washington Redskins they will face three questions regarding the linebackers.
1. Will DeAndre Levy be ready to go? The middle linebacker’s bad luck has been costly to the Lions defense. He had a stiff back in training camp then pulled a groin in the preseason. He played in one game -- at Minnesota -- and sprained an ankle. That has kept him out ever since. Coach Jim Schwartz said the hope is to have him back against the Redskins, but Levy did not practice on Wednesday and Thursday. All he did was stretch with the team and then ran a few drills on the sideline on Thursday
The Lions have built their defensive back seven around Levy and safety Louis Delmas who is playing despite a groin injury. Neither has been close to 100 percent all season.
If they are to find success in the final 10 games of the season they need Levy in there. In the first six games they played five different linebackers in the middle -- Levy, Landon Johnson, Ashlee Palmer, Spencer Havner (who has been waived/injured) and Vinny Ciurciu who was brought back the week prior to the Giants game. This doesn’t even count Jordon Dizon, who should have been the backup in the middle, who was lost for the season during training camp.
2. Will Zack Follett, who has started five games on the outside, return this season? No one knows the answer to this. Follett missed one start because of a concussion, but this injury that resulted from a helmet-to-helmet hit in the Giants game is neck related. Follett tweeted on Thursday that he’s getting more movement in his neck and that he will see a spinal specialist next Thursday. He’s tough, he’s the pain train. But whether he can come back has nothing to do with toughness.
3. How much can Bobby Carpenter help and how soon will he be ready to step in? Carpenter was signed this week and was at his first Lions’ practice on Thursday. He’s played mostly in a 3-4 alignment, but was in training camp last summer with the Rams who play a 4-3. He’s played inside and outside. Last season, which Schwartz calls his best in the NFL, he played nickel linebacker for the Cowboys. If he’s a fast learner and has something to offer he could help the linebacking depth.
(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)