Lions eye Golladay’s return vs. high-flying Cardinals
The Detroit Lions are winless and hampered with many key players injured, but one offensive weapon is expected to make his season debut on Sunday against the unbeaten Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz.
Star wide receiver Kenny Golladay missed the Lions’ opening two games — losses to NFC North rivals Chicago and Green Bay — with a hamstring injury. He practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday for the first time since Sept. 9.
Arizona, 2-0 for the first time since 2015, started the week as a 6.5-point favorite, according to BetMGM, but the line quickly moved to 5.5 after news broke of Golladay’s likely return.
Golladay, 26, led the NFL with 11 touchdown catches last season and finished seventh in the league with 1,190 receiving yards.
“Obviously, it hurts when you’re losing one of your best guys, so hopefully we’ll be able to get him back this week,” Detroit offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday. “(He) adds a different dimension. It totally changes the way that the defense looks at you.”
Golladay is quarterback Matthew Stafford’s top deep threat. Golladay averaged 18.3 yards per catch last season. This season, Stafford has completed just two passes of more than 20 yards after completing eight through the first two weeks last year.
Detroit’s personnel issues were magnified in its season-opening loss to Chicago when cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman went down with hamstring injuries and linebacker Jamie Collins was ejected.
Coleman was put on IR and the Lions also lost starting left guard Joe Dahl last week to the injured reserve with an ailing groin.
Defensive tackle Nick Williams (shoulder) was limited and Trufant did not practice Wednesday. Williams and Trufant are listed as questionable for Sunday.
Arizona is rolling behind second-year quarterback Kyler Murray. In the win over the Washington Football Team last week, Murray passed for 286 yards, ran for 67 and accounted for three touchdowns.
“He adds a different dynamic to this offense where he can go and score from 20, 30 yards out,” said Arizona wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who leads the NFL with 22 receptions (for 219 yards).
“It’s something that is hard for defenders to be able to attack when you have a quarterback like that that is looking to score and not just getting first downs.”
Arizona plays three straight games against teams who are a combined 0-6 — the Lions, Carolina Panthers and New York Jets — before hosting a Week 6 Monday Night Football game against Dallas.
Arizona second-year coach Kliff Kingsbury is not entirely pleased with his team’s start. The Cardinals lead the NFL with 20 penalties.
“Our players have to understand that we have to take what we’re saying on the practice field and practicing on the practice field and transition to the games,” Kingsbury said of the penalties.
The Cardinals on Monday activated receiver KeeSean Johnson from the COVID-19 reserve list after a 10-day stint and placed tight end Maxx Williams on the injured reserve with an ankle injury.
Christian Kirk, a third-year receiver who has only three receptions, is listed as questionable with a groin injury. He missed practice Wednesday, as did starting center Mason Cole (hamstring). Starting DE Jordan Phillips (ankle) also missed practice. Starting cornerback Byron Murphy (shoulder) was limited.
Arizona has received approval from local and state health officials to have a small controlled group of spectators. The group will be limited to no more than 750 people, and it will be comprised of immediate family members or close friends of the players, coaches and staff.
–Field Level Media