The Lions' choice regarding tight end Zach Ertz for the NFC Championship has raised questions.

Vince Carbonneau
January 27, 2024  (8:04 PM)

The Detroit Lions made a strategic move before the NFC Championship game by signing tight end Zach Ertz earlier in the week. However, they ultimately decided not to include him in the game, considering the limited time he had for practice and the high stakes of a potential Super Bowl appearance.

On January 24, the Lions signed Ertz to their practice squad, aiming to bolster their tight end position, which had been hit hard by injuries. Despite this signing, the Lions chose not to promote Ertz for the January 28 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, a decision that raised questions among fans.
One insider provided some context for Detroit's decision. The Lions announced that they elevated two players from their practice squad for the game, fullback Jason Cabinda and offensive lineman Michael Schofield. The choice to leave Ertz off the roster puzzled some fans. However, Mike Payton of AtoZ Sports explained that it was unlikely Ertz could have fully prepared for the game in such a short time.
Payton noted, "I know it seems weird, but Ertz has been here for three whole days. That's just not enough time to learn a playbook. Even if he did play on Sunday, it was more than likely going to be in a limited capacity. He was not going to be a big difference in this one."
Zach Ertz, a three-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion with the Philadelphia Eagles, had a modest season with the Arizona Cardinals, making 27 catches for 187 yards and one touchdown in seven games. Ertz had been waived in November after requesting his release.
Former Cardinals teammate J.J. Watt indicated that Ertz had plans to join a competitive team and pursue his second Super Bowl ring.
Although the Lions had faced tight end injuries, rookie standout Sam LaPorta returned to practice in full after recovering from a knee injury suffered in the regular season finale. Since LaPorta had already played in the first two playoff games and was removed from the injury report for the NFC title game, the team had some stability at the position.
Backup tight end Brock Wright was unavailable for the rest of the season after suffering an arm injury in the previous week's victory.
Despite not having Ertz in the lineup, the Lions had alternative options at the tight end position. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press pointed out that Jason Cabinda could also fill the role of a third tight end if needed.
The Lions' choice regarding tight end Zach Ertz for the NFC Championship has raised questions.

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