Huge Lions injury news sets stage for Commanders to earn Week 2 victory
By Jerry Trotta
The Washington Commanders’ Week 2 game against the Detroit Lions is a surprisingly-early litmus test for Ron Rivera’s group after they opened the season with a last-minute come from-behind win over Doug Pederson’ Jaguars.
The odds don’t favor the Commanders, though the line has dropped to as low as +1.5 after it opened with Detroit favored -2.5. If there was an injury variable to weigh, though, Washington would have a distinct advantage.
That has to count for something, no?
Regardless where you stand, it’s noteworthy the Lions will be down several key starters for Sunday’s game, with more potentially to join.
After ruling out center Frank Ragnow, Detroit downgraded Pro Bowl left guard Jonah Jackson to doubtful with a finger injury. If Jackson doesn’t get the green light, the Lions entire projected starters along the interior of their offensive line will be sidelined after they placed right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai on injured reserve.
The Lions will be without starting OL Frank Ragnow and Jonah Jackson against the Commanders.
This is a huge break for the Commanders.
Ragnow is one of the best centers in the NFL and the four-year, $54 million extension he inked last offseason reflects that. In fact, it made him the game’s highest-earning center. That should tell you how important he is to Detroit’s line.
Jackson, meanwhile, is an ascending talent at the guard position. A third-round pick in the 2020 draft, Jackson made his first Pro Bowl in 2021, albeit as an injury replacement, and has started 33 of a possible 34 games since he was drafted. The 25-year-old is well on his way to earning a handsome second contract.
In addition to Ragnow and Jackson, starting corner Armani Oruwariye is questionable with a back injury after not practicing Friday. Last season, Oruwariye compiled 57 tackles, six interceptions and 11 passes defended in 14 starts. With Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Jahan Dotson high on confidence after each of them found the end zone in Week 1, it goes without saying Detroit needs its play-making CB out there.
Lions star running back D’Andre Swift is also questionable with an ankle injury, but he exuded confidence when asked if he’d play.
The Commanders are dealing with their own injuries, but they’re not nearly as crippling as Detroit’s injury report. Jon Allen was listed as questionable after getting in a full practice Friday and not featuring on the injury report. The expectation is Allen will play if he avoids a setback during warmups.
Outside of Allen, Wes Schweitzer and Kam Curl (both questionable) are the only Commanders with an injury designation for Sunday.
Injury reports don’t win games, but you can’t deny the advantage the Commanders have in this all-important department. With seemingly not much separating these team’s at full-strength, it’s not crazy to say the stage has been set for Washington to walk out of Ford Field with its second-straight win.
If Allen goes, the Commanders have Allen and Daron Payne going against backup offensive linemen. If Oruwariye doesn’t go, the Lions have one less starting cornerback to account for McLaurin, Samuel and Dotson.
You do the math.