It's looking like the Detroit Lions could have their starting quarterback back for Thursday's Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Chicago Bears.
"I thought he was better today," head coach Dan Campbell said of Jared Goff's progression through a strained oblique. "I think it's leaning that way to Goff (to play Thursday), we'll see."
Goff didn't play in Sunday's 13-10 loss in Cleveland after straining his oblique in the first quarter of the Week 10 tie in Pittsburgh. It was just the second game he's missed due to injury in his career.
"He's tough," Campbell said of Goff. "Honestly, that's part of my concern, because I know how tough he is, and he tells you he's being truthful, but I know how bad he wants to play. He's been through a lot, played through a lot and I appreciate that about him. But I do want to make sure he's definitely ready to go, you know? And I do think it's trending that way."
Goff's certainly had his issues this season, but backup Tim Boyle threw for just 77 yards in Cleveland, and the Lions really limited their passing attack with him at the helm.
Goff ranks 25th in passing yards (2,109), 27th in touchdowns (8) and 27th in passer rating (84.0), and Detroit ranks 30th in passing offense overall, but if healthy, he gives the Lions the best chance of winning Thursday vs. Chicago.
"I feel good, better every day," Goff said Tuesday. "We'll see. I don't know what he has said but I'd categorize it as a gameday decision. Feel good though. Really good."
DALTON IN FOR FIELDS
The Bears have been dealing with injury issues of their own at quarterback this week with starter Justin Fields going down with a rib injury Sunday and veteran backup Andy Dalton having to step in. The Bears announced Tuesday Dalton would be getting the start for Chicago.
Asked about the difference preparing for Dalton vs. Fields, Campbell said he still expects Chicago to lean on their run game, which isn't a bad idea considering they rushed for 188 yards and three touchdowns in the first matchup with Detroit Week 4, a 24-14 Bears' win.
"But I think the difference (between the quarterbacks) is Dalton is an experienced guy, he's seen a lot, done a lot and knows the offense," Campbell said. "To have a veteran presence, somebody who's done it I think probably gives them a little bit of comfort, I would think, because he's ready to go and doesn't need a lot."
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The first eight games of the season the Lions produced just seven takeaways. In their last two games, a tie in Pittsburgh and a close loss in Cleveland, Detroit's taken the ball away five times. It was a forced fumble by safety Will Harris that was recovered by outside linebacker Trey Flowers that sealed the tie against the Steelers.
"Defensively we're getting turnovers, which I think is pretty big," Campbell said this week. "It gives yourself a chance and to play good defense, you need to get turnovers, which we are."
The Lions already have seven interceptions on the year, which is just as many as they had in both 2020 and 2019 in 16 games. Cornerback Amani Oruwariye leads the way with a career-high four.
The Lions are on a nice takeaway streak, and they hope to continue it Thursday against a Bears' team entering Thanksgiving minus-four in turnover differential.
"I think you're always talking about them," Campbell said of takeaways. "You're always preaching them. You're always working. Like, we work turnover drills. We've been doing them all year, but sometimes it just takes - you've got to get a little momentum and all of a sudden you get one and guys start feeling it and smelling it.
"Next thing you know, one guy sees his teammate doing it, he starts doing it, and then the next one starts doing and it does, it becomes contagious."
Campbell, when asked about the opportunity to get the Lions' first win and make a good impression in the last scheduled national television game of the season: "Oh, you're telling me they're not going to flex us later?" he said in jest. Wide receiver Josh Reynolds didn't have a great debut for the Lions in Cleveland, and Campbell said Reynolds is eager to improve on what happened last week, which included a dropped pass, a critical offensive pass interference penalty in the red zone, and losing a 50-50 ball to an interception. A couple injuries to keep an eye on for Chicago: Wide receiver Allen Robinson (hamstring) and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (ankle) have yet to practice for the Bears this week.