The Detroit Lions announced on Wednesday that starting offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai has been placed on injured reserve. This doesn’t necessarily mean his first season with the Lions is over, but he will miss at least the next three of Detroit’s six remaining games.
Vaitai missed the first two games of the season with a foot injury. After playing in the next six games—both at right tackle and right guard—the foot injury popped back up on the injury report. He missed Week 10’s game against the Washington Football Team and was pulled around halftime last week against the Panthers.
Obviously, it’s been a disappointing year from Vaitai, who was heralded as one of Detroit’s biggest offseason signings. The Lions inked him to a five-year, $45 million contract back in March, hoping he’d lock down the right tackle position for Detroit after letting Rick Wagner go. Injuries all along the offensive line forced Vaitai in and out of the lineup at both guard and tackle, and the end result was an inconsistent season. That being said, his overall PFF grade of 65.9 is better than the overall perception of his play.
Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu takes Vaitai’s place on the roster. Sanu was signed to Detroit’s practice squad earlier in the month, and got his first chance at playing last week when temporarily promoted against the Panthers. Now firmly on a 53-man roster spot, Sanu could play again this week with the statuses of Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola in doubt. Last week, Sanu played 15 snaps but did not record a catch.
Additionally, the Lions announced they’ve temporarily promoted two players from the practice squad: cornerback Dee Virgin and defensive tackle Albert Huggins. Virgin will likely slide into the special teams role that was given to Mike Ford, who is currently out with a concussion. Huggins helps provide depth at defensive tackle, as Da’Shawn Hand is fighting a groin injury. Both Huggins and Virgin will revert back to the practice squad after Thursday’s game.