Levi Onwuzurike’s second NFL season is over.
The Detroit Lions’ 2021 second-round pick had back surgery according to Dan Campbell and will not return to action this season.
“Levi, about a week ago, had surgery on his back,” Campbell said on Monday. “So he’s out for the season.”
The origins of Onwuzurike’s back injury trace back to his college career at Washington. It flared up in his rookie training camp, causing him to miss significant practice time. And although he played in 16 games last season, it was an injury he dealt with all season—limiting his effectiveness.
“I know he played, he didn’t miss games really for the most part, but he was not healthy,” defensive line coach Todd Wash said this offseason. “He was battling through it.”
After spending this entire offseason rehabbing and building strength, there was optimism that Onwuzurike had put the injury behind him and was ready to live up to his high draft billing. But on the first padded practice of training camp this year, Onwuzurike aggravated the injury, and never even returned to practice.
The Lions were originally optimistic that he would come back relatively soon, but Campbell’s demeanor toward the injury situation turned near the start of the season, saying that his rehab was going at a snail’s pace. On Monday, he said after they consulted many doctors, they were out of options and had to do surgery.
“It’s a last resort, but we felt like that was where he needed to go with it,” Campbell said. “Saw a number of doctors and so we’ll see where it goes.”
When asked if this surgery should fix the issue so that it doesn’t linger long-term, Campbell was non-committal.
“Yeah, hopefully, this certainly helps.”