The Detroit Lions surprised many during warmups 30 minutes before kickoff against the Arizona Cardinals. With right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai in the lineup for the first time this year, he was expected to take that starting role for Tyrell Crosby. But that’s not how the Lions lined up practiced.
Vaitai, was lined up at right guard instead, a position that was occupied by rookie Jonah Jackson over the first two games. Jackson moved over to left guard, where he will serve as a replacement for Joe Dahl, who was placed on injured reserve last week. Oday Aboushi held that role last week, but struggled. Meanwhile, Crosby stayed put at right tackle, leaving Detroit’s starting lineup for Week 3 as follow:
Left tackle: Taylor Decker
Left guard: Jonah Jackson
Center: Frank Ragnow
Right guard: Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Right tackle: Tyrell Crosby
This is especially surprising, because Vaitai repped almost exclusively at right tackle during training camp. Vaitai does have some brief experience at guard during his time with the Eagles, but the Lions handed him a hefty contract this offseason to play tackle.
This appears to be a strategy of the Lions simply putting their best five offensive linemen on the field. In Detroit’s opinion, Vaitai at guard is more valuable than Aboushi at guard and Crosby on the bench.