Returning from last season: DeAndre Levy, Vinny Ciurciu
New to the team: Isaiah Ekejiuba, Rocky Boiman
With Jordon Dizon out for the season and DeAndre Levy having an injury-filled training camp/preseason, the Lions have had to rely on linebackers who were mainly brought in for special teams purposes. Vinny Ciurciu, for example, was signed last year as a depth player who would mainly contribute on kick/punt coverage. The same goes for Isaiah Ekejiuba, who was once a Pro-Bowler just for his special teams play. Both have had to step it up with Dizon done for the season and Levy struggling with injuries.
As it stands right now, Levy's status for the beginning of the season is in question due to his latest injury (a pulled groin muscle). That is part of why Rocky Boiman was brought in today, as he will likely see time at MLB. What does that mean for the special teams players that have been forced to step it up as linebackers? I'm not exactly sure. I personally don't think Ciurciu has looked all that bad, and Ekejiuba has been all right as well. Are either of them starting-caliber linebackers? Probably not, but the Lions may be forced to start one of them if Levy is injured when the season begins.
It will be interesting to see how the roster shakes out at linebacker in general, but especially at MLB. Levy is the only lock, as the others are fighting for the spot or spots behind him. Boiman makes things even more uncertain, as he will get a couple days of practice before the final preseason game. Do you keep him because he is more of a true linebacker than a special teams player, or do you keep someone like Ekejiuba to improve special teams but leave something to be desired at MLB? It's a tough call, and I'm not sure what the Lions will decide to do.
Need going forward?
Boiman's addition lessens the level of need to add a player at MLB, but that doesn't mean the Lions will be done with the linebacker position going forward. With the first round of roster cuts coming to a close tomorrow and the final round coming up on Saturday, I'm sure the Lions will be scouring the waiver wire for a starting-caliber middle linebacker. This wouldn't be a huge issue had Levy not injured his groin, but with him banged up and Dizon already done for the year, the Lions will undoubtedly keep their eye on which MLBs are let go this week.