The worst fears for the Detroit Lions came true on Wednesday morning as the team announced that veteran defensive tackle Haloti Ngata has been placed on injured reserve due to an elbow injury suffered in the first half of Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.
Ngata was enjoying a fairly effective season so far, tallying seven tackles and 2.0 sacks through four and a half games. He was also the veteran leader on a young group of defensive lineman.
Though Ngata’s season isn’t necessarily over—the Lions could bring him back from IR to start practicing in six weeks and return to the roster in eight weeks—it looks like this could very well be the end for him as a Lion. Ngata is now 33 years old and in the final year of his contract with Detroit.
UPDATE: According to Dave Birkett, Ngata’s injury is significant enough to be considered season-ending. His season is over:
An update: Haloti Ngata's injur is serious enough that it's considered a season-ended. He won't be back this year. https://t.co/0Sfb6KI7RN— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) October 11, 2017
Tim Twentyman is also reporting that the injury is more specifically to his bicep.
To make up for the loss of Ngata, the Lions made the signing of Datone Jones official, and they also re-signed defensive tackle Caraun Reid and waived Thurston Armbrister.
Reid returns to the Lions after spending last year with the Chargers. Reid was originally drafted by the Lions in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. In his two years in Detroit, he notched 31 tackles and 2.0 sacks in 26 games (12 starts). Last year with the Chargers, he had five tackles and 1.0 sacks in seven games before suffering a season-ending ACL injury. He did not make the final cuts with Los Angeles this year.
The Lions have had issues along the defensive line, and now they’ll have to adjust without their most veteran of starters. Last week, Akeem Spence stepped up in Ngata’s absence, and he’s likely to take over the starting role as is. But both Reid and Jones will likely be pushed into immediate rotational roles as well. We’ll see how effective they are on Sunday when the Lions head down to New Orleans to face the Saints.