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Halapoulivaati Vaitai likely out for season, but Lions could get another OL back

The Detroit Lions starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai is doing well after recovering from back surgery, but he is unlikely to return to the field in 2022.

Detroit Lions v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Last year, Detroit Lions fans bemoaned the fact that they never got to see the team’s starting five offensive linemen together for even a single snap. Unfortunately, it looks like Lions fans won’t be treated to that again in 2022.

On Friday, Lions coach Dan Campbell revealed that starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai is not expected to return to the lineup this season after undergoing back surgery earlier this year.

“He’s doing well. I would say that (chances to play this year) would be very slim to none as of right now,” Campbell said. “But the surgery went well, and he’s doing great. It’s just that’s one of those long-term—If you’re asking me right now, I would say it would be hard to get him back.”

Vaitai suffered his back injury in the preseason finale and was placed on injured reserve before Week 1. In his place, the Lions have started several different players, including Logan Stenberg, Dan Skipper, and now Evan Brown.

The good news is that the player who was once projected to back up Vaitai—Tommy Kraemer—could be back relatively soon.

“We’re just gauging his progress right now,” Campbell said. “I could see him being back at some point here over the next few weeks possibly.”

Kraemer, too, suffered a back injury early in the season and was not able to make a single appearance this year before being placed on injured reserve after Week 1. Because the minimum of four games have passed since being placed on IR, Kraemer is eligible to return whenever he’s healthy.

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