The news could have been a lot worse for Lions fans this week.
Let's start with the fact that Detroit was ravaged by injuries over the weekend in a 31-20 loss to the Raiders. The bad news is, to nobody's surprise, most of those injured players—running back Kevin Smith and corners Chris Houston and Bill Bentley among them—are unlikely to play in the preseason finale against Buffalo on Thursday, according to Justin Rogers of MLive.
In a meeting with reporters on Wednesday, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz indicated that he is proceeding with caution as the preseason comes to a close and the season-opener against St. Louis looms. He told Rogers:
"We'll see where they get to. It's likely none of them will play Thursday, but we'll see what kind of progression we can get them on. It's nothing really long-term with any of them."
There is the silver lining: It could be a lot worse. Schwartz clearly isn't worried about any of his stars missing considerable time, and according to Rogers, the players are all but officially classified as day-to-day.
That's good news for the Lions offense, which looked to Smith to be the team's second-leading rusher in 2011, when he registered 356 yards and four touchdowns—best among all running backs on the pass-heavy Lions. Smith also racked up an additional 179 yards and three TDs in the air in 2011.
The Lions, who went 10-6 last year, need their offensive stars to survive in the NFC North. In a resurgent 2011 season, they finished with the league's fifth-best total offense and the fourth-best passing offense. Their rushing offense, however, was the fourth-worst, so they certainly can't afford to lose Smith.
Smith, who is entering his fifth year in the league, sustained the injury in the second quarter on Saturday, and according to Rogers, "He could be seen punching the bench on the sideline in frustration."
After the game, he told MLive that he was scared of getting injured, and his fear isn't unfounded: Last season, he suffered a high ankle sprain, according to MLive, and his worst nightmare was finding himself sidelined once again.
While it's certainly good news that Smith should—by all indications—be ready to go for the regular season, the Lions aren't quite out of the woods yet. There is still the secondary to worry about, and of course, there's Matthew Stafford, who injured his non-throwing hand in the second quarter of that disastrous game against Oakland, according to Anwar S. Richardson of MLive.
Stafford's prognosis, like Smith's, is good: X-Rays were negative, according to Richardson, and Stafford said that if he sustained the injury in a regular-season game, he likely would've returned to action instead of being held out to be safe.
This offense could have gotten by without Smith for a few weeks, but it can't get by without Stafford. The last thing it needs is to be without both of them.
Hopefully, in the few remaining days until the start of the regular season, the outlooks regarding their injuries won't change—but check back here for all news and updates about the injuries.