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The Detroit Lions could be without backup quarterback Tim Boyle for an extended period after he injured the thumb on his throwing hand on the opening drive of Friday's 27-17 preseason loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Boyle appeared to hit his right hand on the helmet or shoulder pad of Colts defensive end Kemoko Turay as he lost the ball after being hit from behind by Kwity Paye.
He stayed in for the next series and led the Lions on a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, then gave way to David Blough for the rest of the game.
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"He got his thumb a little bit," Lions coach Dan Campbell said after the game. "We’ll know a lot more tomorrow, but we may have to prepare for him to be out for a little bit."
Boyle walked off the field flexing his right hand after the Lions' opening drive and continued fidgeting with the digit throughout the next possession.
He finished 7-for-9 passing for 53 yards, and went 4-for-4 on third downs on his final drive, including a 15-yard touchdown pass to Quintez Cephus.
"You guys saw it," Blough said. "He was dealing with it and had an incredible long drive that resulted in the touchdown pass to Quintez. We knew he was banged up, didn’t know what it was going to be. But that’s always ready to go and pretty awesome drive for him to fight through it and go out there and throw a touchdown pass and big third down conversions on that drive. It was gutsy."
Boyle was expected to serve as the Lions' No. 2 quarterback this fall after signing a one-year free agent deal in March.
He and Blough split second-team reps throughout training camp, and both had their ups and downs in games.
Boyle finished the preseason 22-for-39 passing (56.4%) for 135 yards, but struggled to move the offense while playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers' No. 1 defense in the second preseason game.
Blough was 30-for-44 passing (68.2%) for 336 yards with one touchdown. He made several impressive plays with his feet, but also threw a bad interception early in Friday's second half that sparked the Colts' comeback.
“I liked where Boyle was at till that went down," Campbell said. "He was in rhythm and he looked comfortable and was running the offense. And then look, Blough did some good things and then he’ll be the first one to tell you, the throw he had, he was a little late on it and that’s what happens. But he was able to move us there, particularly early in the game.
"But look, I would tell you this, I’m encouraged by both quarterbacks. I’m still encouraged with Blough, cause I know what he is and I know what he’s capable of. And I know that he can run an offense."
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Blough, the Lions' No. 3 quarterback the past two seasons, likely will take over as Jared Goff's primary backup if Boyle is forced to miss significant time.
The Lions must keep Boyle on their roster when they cut to 53 players at 4 p.m. Tuesday in order for him to play this season.
"(My wife) Melissa and I are going to be praying for him," Blough said. "But you have opportunities, you have to go out there and lead the team. I look forward to that every week, whether if I thought it was going to be second half, just started a little bit earlier. Got points and then we didn’t finish as well as we would have like. It’s frustrating. As the leader of the offense it’s frustrating when you can’t lead the guys to victory and yeah, I think a lot to see, a lot to grow, a lot to improve on, and you go back out and get better."
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions QB Tim Boyle injures throwing thumb, more tests pending