Watch CBS News

Caldwell Says "Slim" Chance Lions Have Starting O-Line Versus Buccs

By: Will Burchfield

They've dealt with it all year, so it won't be much of a surprise.

But it will be a setback.

The Lions will most likely be without their starting offensive line on Sunday versus the Buccaneers. Asked on Friday if he expects all five starters to play, Jim Caldwell said, "To be straight forward, the likelihood of that may be slim, but we'll see."

Neither right tackle Rick Wagner (ankle) nor right guard T.J. Lang (foot) have practiced this week. Meanwhile, center Travis Swanson (knee) has been a limited participant. He missed last Sunday's game versus the Ravens.

Left guard Graham Glasgow, the only player on the team to play every offensive snap this season, took Swanson's place. Corey Robinson was plugged in at left guard, although he's also been a limited participant in practice this week with a foot injury.

Tackle Emmett Cleary, who spent time filling in for Taylor Decker earlier this season, is another question mark. He apparently injured his ankle in Wednesday's practice, making him a limited participant on Thursday.

The Lions starting offensive line of Decker-Glasgow-Swanson-Lang-Wagner, which looked like a strength when it was assembled in the offseason, has been together for just two games this year: Week 11 versus the Bears, a 27-24 win, and Week 12 versus the Vikings, a 30-23 loss.

If Lang misses Sunday's game, it will be his third absence this season. He missed Week 6 versus the Saints with a back injury and Week 10 versus the Browns with a concussion. He signed a three-year, $28.5 million contract in the offseason.

Wagner, who signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract shortly before Lang, is trending toward his first absence of the season.

With matching annual salaries of $9.5 million, Lang is the league's fifth highest-paid right guard and Wagner is the league's second highest-paid right tackle.

Should Lang be unable to play Sunday, there's a chance Joe Dahl could take his place. Dahl, who spent the first 14 weeks of the season on injured reserve with a leg injury, returned to practice this week. Caldwell said Dahl has looked "decent" and said there's a possibility he could be activated for Sunday's game. Don Barclay, who filled in for Lang versus the Ravens, is also an option.

Should Wagner be unable to play, either Robinson or Brian Mihalik will likely get the start.

Whatever the case, it's been a disappointing and frustrating season for the offensive line, which GM Bob Quinn has invested heavily in the past two years. The Lions have struggled to establish a run game, per usual, and Matthew Stafford has been sacked 39 times, the second most in the NFL.

The quarterback carries an injured hand into Sunday's must-win game in Tampa Bay.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.