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Report: Lions meet with former Vikings DT Shamar Stephen

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The former seventh-round pick has built himself quite a career thus far.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Pittsburgh Steelers Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions search for a nose tackle to replace Haloti Ngata is heating up. According to Howard Balzer, the Lions have met with former Vikings defensive tackle Shamar Stephen:

Stephen has been a significant part of the Vikings’ defensive line rotation since entering the league as a seventh-round pick in 2014. His 2015 season was cut short after suffering a season-ending toe injury in Week 6. Here’s a look at his four-year production:

2014: 16 games (3 starts): 23 tackles
2015: 5 games (0 starts): 3 tackles
2016: 16 games (16 starts): 39 tackles
2017: 15 games (1 start): 28 tackles, 1.0 sacks

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but it appears the Lions are seeking versatility in their free agent targets. Stephen can play several positions on the interior of the defensive line, but spent most of his time as the backup nose tackle in Minnesota. Via the Star Tribune:

Through that attention to detail, Stephen proved he could play both interior positions and earned a rotational role last season — all after a rookie year in which he was the only Vikings newbie to appear in every game. Not Anthony Barr or Teddy Bridgewater, but the seventh-round pick.

Stephen was the 17th defensive tackle drafted in 2014, when the Vikings moved the University of Connecticut three-technique tackle to nose guard.

One major hurdle with Stephen’s visit to Detroit is his physical. Stephen suffered a knee injury in the divisional round of the playoffs—just two months ago—and according to Dave Birkett, he underwent surgery this offseason.

Stephen joins Quinton Dial and Ricky Jean Francois as potential free agent defensive tackles that have visited with the Detroit Lions.