Lions’ Smith, Fairley, Delmas, Houston still out of practice

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Injuries are still a problem for the Detroit Lions.

Lions running back Kevin Smith, who has provided a huge spark to the offense when healthy, is still battling the ankle injury that he suffered on Thanksgiving against the Packers and then aggravated on Sunday against the Saints. Smith was held out of practice today, although Lions coach Jim Schwartz said he doesn’t think Smith’s ankle is any worse now than it was before the Saints game, so presumably Smith will be ready to go this week against the Vikings.

The Lions’ defense was missing a bunch of key players at practice today, with safety Louis Delmas, cornerback Chris Houston and defensive tackle Nick Fairley all out. Delmas and Houston both missed the game against the Saints with knee injures they suffered against the Packers. Fairley got off to a great start against the Saints before he aggravated the same foot injury that has been troubling him since training camp. Defensive end Lawrence Jackson is also missing practice, as he has for three weeks with a thigh injury.

And, of course, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will miss Sunday’s game as the second game of his two-game suspension. So if the Lions are going to win a game they must win to stay competitive in the NFC wild card race, they’re going to do it at far less than 100 percent.