How many Lions players will be in uniform on Sunday?

NFL: OCT 31 Eagles at Lions
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On game day, up to 48 players can be in uniform. The Lions may have fewer than that in uniform on Sunday at Denver.

Here’s the first question. How many fewer than 48 will they have? Second question — how few are too few?

It’s an issue the NFL hasn’t had to address during the pandemic. The number lands, obviously, somewhere between 11 and 48.

Adam Schefter of ESPN.com raises the possibility of Sunday’s game at Denver being moved to Monday night, although he also explains that there had been “no active discussions” along those lines as of Saturday night.

Six Lions have landed on COVID reserve. On Saturday, the Lions elevated six members of the practice squad to replace them (defensive back Corey Ballentine, linebacker Curtis Bolton, defensive tackle Bruce Hector, running back Craig Reynolds, defensive back Nickell Robey, and tight end Shane Zylstra). Another member of the practice squad, defensive back Parnell Motley, was added to the primary roster via standard elevation procedures.

On Saturday, defensive backs Mark Gilbert and Ifeatu Melifonwu landed on COVID reserve, joining running back Jamaal Williams, defensive back Tracy Walker, defensive back Bobby Price, and center Evan Brown.

Beyond the six COVID absences, 10 players are listed as questionable with the flu. Three others are out due to injury, one is doubtful due to injury, and one is questionable due to injury.

More players could test positive for COVID on Sunday, but the Lions also have nine other remaining players on the practice squad, any, some, or all of whom can be called up no later than 90 minutes before kickoff.

With 69 total players on the roster and practice squad and only six not available (for now) due to COVID, the Lions would need to lose a lot more players before they end up having fewer than 48 in uniform. If they dip below 48 (and it’s not unprecedented for a team to not have enough healthy players to fill the maximum game-day roster), what’s the minimum number with which they could play? Forty? Thirty-five? Thirty? Twenty-five? Twenty? Fifteen?

Again, the NFL hasn’t had to go down that road yet. And even if the Lions lose another 10 or 15 or 20 or more to a COVID positive on Sunday morning, moving the game to Monday makes no sense at all. After another day, even more players may test positive.

Thus, it will be a shock if the game doesn’t proceed as scheduled, even if the Lions have fewer than 48 players available. The league is even more determined this year than it was last year to get all games played within their assigned windows. Ultimately, it falls to the teams to figure out how their rosters will be deployed — and to plan for the possibility that some players may have to play other positions, and maybe that some may ultimately have to play both ways.

Meanwhile, the line hasn’t moved very sharply in Denver’s direction. At PointsBet, the Broncos were favored by 10 on Thursday. They’re now favored by 11.5.

9 responses to “How many Lions players will be in uniform on Sunday?

  1. I got a great idea. Let’s go back to being normal human beings and say if players feel well enough to play, let them play.

  2. I’m available. I’m almost 50yrs old, can run a 5.0 40yrd dash and played football in High school. I recently played flag football on Thanksgiving day morning. I feel I’m ready to step in if the Lions need me.

  3. Me thinks they’ll plug in the practice squad and chuckle as they can easily justify a few more losses while they race to the bottom of the standings and first in the draft.

  4. How can anyone think lions won’t lose by at least 3 TD’s?

    First win hangover. Flu bug. Covid. Injuries. Playing outside @ Mile High. If Denver pressures golf, they may create three turnovers today. Or more.

    They’re going to have a preseason roster for this game.. I don’t see any way they can cover. So of course they’ll probably will.

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