Rookie Swanson to step in at center for Detroit

Weston Hodkiewicz
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Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell shakes hands with offensive lineman Travis Swanson a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Dec. 7 at Ford Field.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will start his first NFL game without Dominic Raiola at center this Sunday.

He has Raiola's ankle stomp on Chicago defensive lineman Ego Ferguson to thank for that.

Detroit will turn to rookie Travis Swanson in the suspended center's stead. A third-round pick out of Arkansas, the 6-foot-5, 312-pounder started four games at guard earlier this season. Stafford and coach Jim Caldwell said Wednesday they don't believe there will be too much of a drop-off.

Packers rookie center Corey Linsley knows Swanson from the draft process and agrees with Detroit's assessment.

"I think Travis is a heck of a lineman. I think he should've gone higher," Linsley said. "He's done a really good job this year, from what I've seen. … It's not like I'm grading him. But Travis is a great guy. He's really smart, really intelligent. I think he's going to do well."

Linsley and the rest of the Packers' interior line will have their hands full again this Sunday against Ndamukong Suh and the rest of the Lions' defensive front, the backbone to the NFL's second-ranked defense.

Suh made life difficult in the Packers' 19-7 loss to Detroit in Week 3 with two tackles and a sack. He has 46 tackles and 8½ sacks for the season. Since giving up 180 rushing yards against Green Bay on Oct. 16, 2013, the Lions have surrendered only 100 rushing yards on 40 carries over the teams' last two meetings.

"Everybody talks about his strength," Linsley said. "But what makes him so good is that he can – they always talk about that speed to power, he can hit you with a quick move and then all of a sudden he's got his hand right in your pads and pushing you back. His quickness comes with power."

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