Defensive end Jared DeVries has been in the NFL since the Detroit Lions drafted him back in 1999. Every season since he has been a member of the Lions, though the last two years he hasn't played any football because of injuries. These injuries have put his NFL career up in the air, but one thing is certain: DeVries will have to find a new team if he decides to continue his football career in 2011.
DeVries has a long road ahead of him to even get to the point where playing football again is on the table. In 2009, he ruptured his Achilles during training camp and missed the entire season. Last year, he also missed the entire season after having surgery on his left knee during the summer. Now he is getting ready to have microfracture knee surgery and begin rehab.
The Lions' Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew have already informed DeVries that even if he completes his rehab and tries to continue his playing career, he won't be doing it in Detroit. DeVries is not part of the picture going forward for the Lions, who have built some solid depth at defensive end. Cliff Avril, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Lawrence Jackson, Turk McBride and Willie Young are expected to be back next season at the position, so there isn't exactly room for a guy like DeVries even if it was certain he would be able to play in 2011. Right now that's not even the case, and DeVries doesn't sound all that optimistic about being able to play again.
"It's a long shot, but anything's possible," DeVries said by phone last week. "I just don't want to close any doors. Maybe sometime during rehab maybe I'll decide I've had enough. But at this point in time we're just going to attack rehab the way we've always done and see what happens from there."
Perhaps most importantly, DeVries wants to get his body to a point where he can live comfortably after his football career ends. Part of the reason why he hasn't simply retired is because he wants the prospect of returning to be there as motivation during rehab. He may never step on a football field again, but that doesn't mean rehab isn't important for his life outside of football. Right now goal No. 1 seems to be getting healthy, and if rehab goes well enough, then he may consider pursuing another season in the NFL. Although the Lions aren't going to bring him back, DeVries did say that Mayhew and Lewand wouldn't have any problem giving him a recommendation to another team.