The New York Jets are on a short week heading into the Sunday game against the Detroit Lions after a tough loss to the Chicago Bears. The Lions are riding high after coming out ahead of a surprisingly low scoring tilt, beating NFC North rival Green Bay Packers by a score of 19-7.
Gang Green nervously watches and waits as four of their most critical players sat out practice on Wednesday. The Lions for their part had some important pieces sitting on the bench today.
Did not practice: Muhammad Wilkerson (knee), Eric Decker (hamstring), Dee Milliner (Quad), and Nick Mangold (shoulder) all missed the portion of practice open to the media today. Underperforming receiver David Nelson was absent with an illness.
Chris Johnson was limited with an ankle injury.
Decker could be seen on the stationary bike. The Jets standout receiver is hoping to have his hammy healed up enough to go against the Lions on Sunday. The Jets would be mistaken to rush the likely game-time decision Decker back like they did against the Bears, prolonging his injury. With hamstrings there is little you can do but wait them out and prevent aggravating the injury. Rex Ryan appears to disagree with this notion and insists that the Jets pulled Decker at just the right time. Perhaps he is correct.
"I think with that hamstring, we'll see how it is," Ryan said. "Hopefully, he'll be ready to play."
"I think it's easy to look back and say, ‘well, he would've been healthy,' or whatever...But quite honestly, you have a good football player that thinks he can be out there and help you. I wouldn't put a guy out there if he didn't think he could protect himself or wasn't healthy enough to get out there. He clearly thought he was. That's why we played him. I think we never pushed the issue. We took him out where maybe he would've fought to stay back in there. But we thought, ‘Hey, you know what, let's just take him out now.'"
Wilkerson and Mangold are expected to be ready to go for Sunday, with Rex Ryan describing Mo's condition as 'fine' and a simple contusion to the relief of many worried Jets fans who heard Wilkerson yelling out in pain on Monday night. Mangold is nursing an unspecified shoulder injury and was icing it after the Bears game, but the Jets center has not missed a single snap so far in 2014. Barring setbacks, both crucial players will suit up.
Dee Milliner is the most doubtful for the practice. Milliner is no only dealing with a quadricep injury, and says that his ankle sprain has subsided and is no longer an issue. So there's that. At this rate Milliner will miss the most critical games, only taking limited snaps against the Packers so far with poor play that made him a liability.
Calvin Johnson injured his ankle against the Packers on Sunday, but insists that he will play against the Jets. The Lions malaise this week is as follows:
Did not practice: WR Calvin Johnson (ankle), LB Travis Lewis (quadricep), CB Cassius Vaughn (ankle), S Don Carey (hamstring).
Limited in practice: RB Joique Bell (knee), FB Montell Owens (hamstring), OT LaAdrian Waddle (calf), DE Ziggy Ansah (knee), DT Nick Fairley (biceps).
Full participation in practice: DE George Johnson (groin), S James Ihedigbo (neck).
Johnson is likely being held out as a precaution. Starting right tackle Waddle returned to practice but remained limited. Critical players like Ansah and Fairley are being used in practice cautiously this week. A large number of 1st and 2nd team Lions defenders are on the report, but most will likely play.
In practice, the Lions had tight end Jordan Maxwell and wide receiver Andrew Peacock wearing the numbers and playing the roles of Jeff Cumberland and Jeremy Kerley, respectively. It appears as though the Lions are preparing for the weapons Smith has consistently turned to on critical downs.
There's a good chance the Jets chances in this game are tied to the health of Eric Decker. Milliner is underwhelming enough that missing him isn't as strategically devastating, although his status being constantly in doubt certainly hurts the defense.