Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz hedged a bit Thursday on the immediate availability of safety Louis Delmas (knees) for training camp, saying he would be surprised if Delmas can't practice but that there is still a possibility that he could be placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Whenever he does get on the field -- Friday, next week or next month -- the Lions appear intent on limiting his practice time to preserve his chronically sore knees. So we're left to determine how much significance to place on the situation. It's not often that a 26-year-old player needs his repetitions cut back when he is not recovering from a specific injury. Can the Lions nurse him through camp, and then through the regular season, without incident? Or is this a last-gasp effort to extend what is destined to be a shortened career?
I don't know the answer to those questions, and I don't think the Lions do, either. All we know for sure is that Delmas apparently feels good enough to start practicing on a limited basis fairly soon.
"We will have a plan for him during training camp," Schwartz said. "Lou is a veteran player. He is veteran in our system. He knows exactly what is being asked of him. He knows our system inside and out. He needs to practice, but it's probably going to be counterproductive for him to practice every single day. Rather than reacting to [it] if he has something that flares up, we'll start with the approach of trying to be preemptive and trying to keep something from flaring up when it comes to a guy like Lou.
"He is very important to our team, he is very important to our defense, to our secondary and I think the other thing to add in there is [adding] Glover Quin in the offseason. We need to get Lou and Glover on the field and create that kind of camaraderie and synergy between those two guys because there's a lot of unspoken communication between those two safeties there. In a lot of ways they are the quarterbacks of the defense and it’s very important to get some practice time. We just need to balance that time with overextending it."
We have hashed through Delmas' situation many times, from general manager Martin Mayhew's uncertainty prior to free agency to the incentive-laden contract he received to his inability to practice at all this spring. He is a special player when healthy, and the Lions are justified in taking every possible avenue to get what they can out of him.
But we're now heading into a second training camp, and thus a second full season, of uncertainty caused by the condition of his knees. Schwartz said "we'll just take it day by day," and really that's all the Lions can do at this point.