Originally written November 20, 2012 on Fox Sports Detroit:
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola shakes his head when he thinks back to when teammate Jeff Backus suffered a torn biceps during the playoffs last season. He was trying to wrap it and go back in the game, Raiola said. There was like a minute left in the game and we were down two or three scores. That will give you an example into the mind of Jeff Backus. Backus streak of 186 consecutive starts at left tackle -- every game during his 12-year career -- is in serious jeopardy this week. Backus left Sundays game against Green Bay with a hamstring injury, missed practice Tuesday and is unofficially considered doubtful for Thursdays game against Houston. Backus, who wasnt available for comment, has the third-longest active streak, behind only Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber (209 straight starts) and Washington linebacker London Fletcher (189). Backus' streak is actually 187 if you include the playoff game. I know hes going to do everything he can, Raiola said when asked if he thinks Backus will somehow find a way to play. More than the streak, hes a person you can count on. His accountability level is unbelievable. I think its more that. I dont think its the streak. I think its he wants to be out there with us. I think thats the biggest thing. Backus, a first-round draft pick out of Michigan in 2001, takes his share of criticism from fans, but his teammates have the utmost respect for him. Raiola called the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Backus a rock. Quarterback Matt Stafford said Backus is an unbelievable professional. Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch added: I dont know if theres a player in this league I have more respect for. Jeff Backus has played through tons of injuries. He doesnt miss practice. He doesnt complain. Hes been a true pro. Asked whether Backus status for the Thanksgiving game has been confirmed yet, coach Jim Schwartz said following Tuesdays practice, Nothings been ruled yet. If Backus cant go, rookie Riley Reiff, a 6-6, 313-pound first-round draft pick, will start in his place. Reiff has gotten quite a bit of playing time lately in the role of a sixth offensive lineman. He struggled, however, after replacing Backus at left tackle in the Green Bay game. Im ready to go, Reiff said. You have to be ready. Something happens, you have to be ready to step up. Any time you get out on the field, you gain a little bit more knowledge, a little bit more experience. The guys in the O-line room, were all together. Its one unit. Jeffs a great guy. I listen to anything he says because hes a smart player. I try to take as much advice from him as possible. Reiff, who grew up in South Dakota and went to college at Iowa, said he remembers watching the Lions in the traditional Turkey Day games. You watch the game a little bit and when youre a little kid, you run out and try mimicking those players, Reiff said. Its just special to play on Thanksgiving. I remember a lot of those games. I wasnt a huge Lions fan at the time, but I remember watching them play. This time, he could become the first player other than Backus to start at left tackle for the Lions since the final game of the 2000 season. EXTRA POINTS Safety Louis Delmas, who has missed the last three games because of a knee injury, returned to practice Tuesday. As for whether Delmas will play against Houston, Schwartz said, I dont know yet, to tell you the truth. He has a chance. Offensive guard Justin Boren, who played at Michigan before transferring to Ohio State, was signed to the Lions practice squad.
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