The Lions need to pull out all the stops in their NFC North rematch versus the Bears on Thursday. Unfortunately, they will have to do so without two of their best offensive weapons.
Running back Kerryon Johnson and wide receiver Marvin Jones have been ruled out of the team’s Thanksgiving game, the team annouced Wednesday. Jones hurt his right knee in the previous matchup against the Bears in Chicago on Nov. 11 and will miss his second consecutive game, while Johnson sustained an injury to his left knee Sunday in the Lions’ 20-19 win over the Panthers.
Johnson, a rookie out of Auburn, leads Detroit in rushing yards (641) and will miss the first game of his career. Along with the 640-plus yards in 118 carries, Johnson has also tallied three touchdowns and 32 receptions for 213 yards and a score.
Now, the Lions will deploy a backfield trio of LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner against the Bears.
“We’ll just try to get as many reps or whatever situations come up with the guys and see how they handle them,” coach Matt Patricia said, via ESPN. “For us it’s just, again, I would tend to lean more towards what everybody does well and hopefully we can just go out and execute. I think those guys do have pretty good skill sets, I would say it’s more than probably just linear.
“I think there’s quite a few things in there that they can do well and in the game and different facets. So, we’re just going to have to do a good job of trying to come up with those situations.”
Jones has 35 catches for 508 yards and five touchdowns behind only Kenny Golladay and Golden Tate. Detroit will look to fourth-year player TJ Jones and Andy Jones, who was recently promoted to the active roster, as well as Bruce Ellington to compliment Golladay and Tate.
The quick turnaround also leaves a number of players questionable including Ellington (back), tight end Michael Roberts (shoulder), defensive linemen Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder), Damon “Snacks” Harrison (shoulder) and A’Shawn Robinson (ankle) and cornerback Darius Slay (knee).
In the two teams’ previous meeting, the Bears won 34-22 behind 26 first-half points. Chicago sits atop the division with a 7-3 record. The Bears are also riding a four-game win streak, putting distance between themselves and the second-place Vikings and trailing Packers.
The Lions (4-6) have a chance to inch above Green Bay in the standings with a win Thursday.
Kickoff at Ford Field is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET.