When news came down that the Detroit Lions would be facing more injury trouble along the offensive line, folks were likely worried in a big way.
The good news they didn’t consider? A player was waiting in the wings from the practice squad to help save them for Week 2. That player was none other than reserve guard Dan Skipper, who stepped in nearly flawlessly.
Skipper played a tough brand of guard for the team, and much like Week 1, despite the fact that Detroit’s offensive line was jumbled, the beat went on for the Lions. Detroit scored over 35 points again, and put away a 36-27 victory.
A big reason that was able to be the case was the work of Skipper up front. After the game, though, he didn’t want any extra accolades even though folks were ready to hand them out. As Skipper told the media, it’s simply his job.
“We’re all the next guy up. We’re not the chosen ones so to speak, but at the end of the day, go out there, get a win, that’s what matters,” Skipper said. “(Taylor) Decker and Penei (Sewell) going out there, helping us along, that’s part of what this gig’s about. Show up every day, put your hard hat on and go to work and good things happen.”
Skipper ended up playing a big role for the Lions by simply doing his job and being gritty on the field. At one point, he drove a Commanders safety well down the field while opening a hole.
As a result of his play, Skipper got some major praise after the game from Dan Campbell, who showered him with the love in the locker room.
There’s a good reason for this reaction from the team.
Skipper’s Comeback Story Inspiring for Lions
Skipper was cut this year out of camp again, which had been a reoccurring theme for him in his career. It’s something that fueled him to work hard and never give up on his dream.
As he told the media, it’s been a frustrating road to this point, which culminated in yet another cut in 2022.
“It’s my sixth year in the league, I’ve never made a team. It’s tough. You’re just never quite good enough. You’re not quite enough. You show up every day and think you’re doing the right thing, and for whatever reason, it doesn’t quite work out,” he said. “I think I’ve had 20 NFL contracts, they’re not worth the paper they’re written on. It’s like ‘here we go again,’ sixth year, I think things look good, it sucks.”
Instead, though, Skipper didn’t give up and stuck with it. He stayed with the Detroit practice squad, earned his opportunity and then owned it when he got the call.
When folks talk about grit, this is it. Skipper isn’t anyone’s first name along the offensive front, but it’s clear the player is cut from a different, tougher cloth and that’s what makes him special.
For the Lions, having a person and player on the roster like Skipper ready to step in is a huge advantage. While folks talk about the ideal mindset a team wants to build, Skipper is the type of player they are talking about.
Skipper’s Career Stats & Highlights
Those who did not see this coming from Skipper need not be blamed. To this point, he had only played in 12 games in his NFL career with no starts. Skipper did however know the system and scheme given he has played in Detroit before.
Skipper was an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas in 2017, so he undoubtably has a good relationship with Frank Ragnow, Detroit’s center who is out injured. Ragnow is a fellow Razorback and both he and Skipper’s time overlapped in Fayetteville while in college. Skipper also joined the team in 2019 where he played briefly for the Lions.
Skipper started his career with the Dallas Cowboys, but quickly signed on with the Lions. He has played in Detroit before, and was on the Lions roster in 2017 and 2018. Following spending that time with the Lions, he was snatched up by the New England Patriots, where he managed to be on the practice squad for the team that captured Super Bowl LII.
At 6-9, Skipper is one of the tallest players in the NFL, which is why teams have appreciated his tools up front. With a body that size, he can move around and serve as a key blocker, which is what he did. Here’s Skipper at work in college:
Skipper deserves so much credit for sticking with his dream and making a positive impact on the Lions. For this reason, it’s easy to see how he could be exactly the type of player the team is building their new culture around.