ALLEN PARK — Injuries to Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Joe Dahl have forced the Detroit Lions to roll with three different offensive line combinations in the first four games of the season. Now an injury to center Frank Ragnow could force them into a fourth different lineup on Sunday when they travel to Jacksonville for a matchup with the Jaguars.
Ragnow has been excellent since the Lions moved him to center last year. He hasn’t allowed so much as a QB hit this season and is the second-ranked run blocker at the position according to ProFootballFocus. But he tweaked his groin in Detroit’s return from the bye on Wednesday, did not practice on Thursday and did very little during the 15 minutes of practice that were open to reporters on Friday afternoon.
Rookie Logan Stenberg is Ragnow’s listed replacement on the depth chart, but it’s unlikely he would actually play the position except in an emergency. Stenberg struggled at center throughout camp and has spent most of the season repping at guard, the position he played back at Kentucky. And by all appearances, he doesn’t seem to be close to playing that position either.
Instead, Dahl seems like the likeliest candidate to get the call if Ragnow can’t go in Jacksonville. He remains on injured reserve with the groin injury he sustained in practice after the opener, but returned to the field this week and is Detroit’s preferred backup if he’s healthy enough to go. He’s never actually played the position in the NFL before, but has practiced there over the years and earned the coaches’ trust with some solid play at left guard over the last year-plus.
Cornerback Desmond Trufant still isn’t practicing on defense, which means rookie Jeff Okudah is expected to make another start alongside Amani Oruwariye.