One of the best offensive lines in the NFL has now lost a player for the remainder of the season.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai nearly retired this past offseason due to a back injury, but worked his way back into the fold as the team’s starting right guard to open this season.
However, he’s been limited to six games (three starts) this year, and now will sit out the remainder of the season on injured reserve, the Lions announced this week.
Any loss is significant to a team with aspirations like Detroit’s. Let’s examine how this affects this going forward (and learn how to win $150 in bonus bets at FanDuel).
Halapoulivaati Vaitai goes on IR with Back Injury
Vaitai signed a five-year contract with the Lions as part of a 2020 free agent class that will go down as a relatively unsuccessful group.
That class included: Desmond Trufant (6 games played as a Lion), Jayron Kearse (11 games played), Danny Shelton (12 games played), Jamie Collins (16 games played) and Reggie Ragland (16 games played), among Vaitai and a few others.
Vaitai is undoubtedly the cream of the crop in that class, and a great teammate to boot, too.
“Look, V’s unbelievable,” Dan Campbell told The Detroit News. “There’s nothing easy about the injury he’s had to come back from, then he had the knee (injury from Week 2), and he’s been rehabbing this thing for a long time…
“No matter what, I told him we want him around here,” Campbell continued. “He wants to be around. He’s still very much a part of us and what we are here.”
Though foot, knee and back injuries limited his availability, he fought back from each injury to return to the field – even going as far as to restructure his contract this past offseason to stay in Detroit.
Of course, the Lions have the luxury of having Graham Glasgow – one of the league’s better right guards this season.
“I feel a lot healthier coming into this year than I did last year,” Glasgow told MLive.com earlier this season. “I was coming off, what was it, a seventh-month, nine-month injury? It was terrible… So coming back here, feeling a lot healthier, and I’m also playing with really good players. I mean, Penei’s a good player, Frank’s a good player, Taylor’s a good player, Jonah’s a good player, Big V is a good player, just being around them, that’s really just nice.”
Detroit also still has Colby Sorsdal for depth, and it’s not like Vaitai’s locker-room presence will be going anywhere.
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