Our writers search for bright side in Thanksgiving Day loss to Chicago Bears on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018.
Shawn Windsor and Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press

Detroit Lions All-Pro return man Jamal Agnew is feeling “great” two months after he partially tore a ligament in his left knee, and remains hopeful he can return to the team this season.

“Man, I feel great,” Agnew said Monday. “Still taking it day by day. Itching to get back out there, as you guys probably can imagine. Injuries happen, but that’s the name of the game. We sign up for that, so just got to deal with it.”

Agnew injured his knee in a Week 5 win over the Green Bay Packers while playing defense, and said he initially feared he’d be out for the season.

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But Agnew avoided surgery and said the Lions told him when they placed him on injured reserve Oct. 15 they hoped to designate him to return this year.

“It was frustrating,” Agnew said. “Being hurt, not being able to go out there and help my team win. Obviously we got the win still, but these past eight weeks, not being able to go out there and help the team win, put us in positions to win, just frustrating. That’s the hardest part about it.”

Every NFL team can designate two players to return per season after that player spends six weeks on injured reserve, a period that Agnew reached on Monday.

Once designated to return, players then have two weeks to practice before being activated for games.

The Lions have not used either of their designations this year, and Agnew said he has not yet been cleared to practice.

“That’s definitely the next step,” he said. “And like I said, it’s out of my hands right now. It’s just a matter of time.”

Agnew, the NFL leader in punt-return average as a rookie, showed no signs of his injury while walking Monday, though he did wear a protective sleeve on his left leg.

He said he won’t have a decision to make on whether to play again this year if he’s cleared to return once the Lions (4-7) are officially eliminated from playoff contention.

“Nah,” he said. “My goal is always to win. Obviously back of my head I’m thinking longevity, protect myself. But I’m feeling pretty great right now. Like I said, it’s not my decision to get activated or not, but I’ve just been working hard, putting myself in that position, make that decision a little bit easier for them. I just want to get back and help the team win. I don’t like watching football. I’ve been doing it all my life. I’m trying to get back out there and play. But I’m just itching to get back out there.”

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Contact Dave Birkett: Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. 

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