DETROIT LIONS UPDATE 

lKERRYON JOHNSON SHOULD RETURN NEXT WEEK; STAFFORD STILL IN PLAY?

The Detroit Lions have been mathematically eliminated from everything of value for weeks. But that hasn’t stopped them from dusting off their top running back and returning him to practice.

And according to MLive.com's Kyle Meinke, it sure sounds like Kerryon Johnson is closing in on a return next week against Denver.

“I thought he looked really good yesterday,” jead coach Matt Patricia said. "I thought he had a really good day for us in practice. I thought he ran hard. You know, I’m on him just to make sure he gets his conditioning and all that stuff. He hasn’t played football in a while, but I liked his energy. I liked where he was at yesterday in practice. I thought it was a really good spot. We’ll hopefully build on that today, and then get into next week.”

Johnson has been on injured reserve since suffering a knee injury in a Week 7 loss against Minnesota. That’s his second major knee injury since Detroit took him in the second round of last year’s draft. He’s shown considerable promise when he’s been on the field -- including averaging the second most yards per carry in the league as a rookie -- although the injuries have stunted his development.

He’s played in just 16 career games.

So while the Lions have no team goals left to play for in the final three games of 2019, the club does see value in bringing back Johnson for the final two games against Denver and Green Bay.

The Lions also remain committed to trying to get quarterback Matthew Stafford on the field. He’s missed the last five games with a back injury, and will miss a sixth against Tampa on Sunday, but remains on the 53-man roster and is still trying to play again before the offseason.

“He and I having those conversations and working on schedule with the doctors and that information there,” Patricia said. "We’ll just kind of go forward as we feel is necessary or is proper as we push forward. Certainly, like I said before, it’s my respect for him and his toughness and his desire to help this team and everything he can do, I just have open ears.”

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