The Detroit Lions announced on Tuesday that offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai is headed to injured reserve, amidst a flurry of roster moves.
Vaitai was only able to make three starts this season before suffering a knee injury that held him out for an extended period of time. Even worse, when Vaitai was finally healthy enough to start again, a back injury crept up and sidelined him again.
Last year, Vaitai missed the entire 2022 season with a back injury that required surgery. Though he spent the offseason mulling retirement, he was hopeful for another go-around with this strong offensive line.
“I took that time to spend time with my kids, my family, just to see what retirement would feel like. But at that same time, I’ve got that chip on my shoulder, so I’m going to come back strong,” Vaitai said back in May.
It’s a tough blow for Vaitai, and although he’s eligible to come back after four games, it’s reasonable to believe that this late in the season, he may have played his last game of 2023—possibly even of his career.
The good news for Detroit is that Graham Glasgow has stepped into the right guard position and has been fantastic. Currently, Glasgow is PFF’s fourth-highest-rated guard with a 76.9 grade.
While the Lions did not make a corresponding move—leaving an empty spot on the 53-man roster—Detroit did announced two changes to their practice squad.
Signed to practice squad:
- OL Michael Schofield
- CB Kindle Vildor
Released from practice squad:
- RB Devine Ozigbo
- CB Anthony Averett
Schofield is a journeyman guard and a former third-round pick from the University of Michigan. In a career that has spanned nine years across six different teams, Schofield has started 83 games. His last stop was with the Chicago Bears, where he started five games before getting placed on IR with a knee injury in December. Schofield is capable of playing either guard position and started his NFL career at right tackle.
Vildor, a 2020 fifth-round pick from the Bears, was waived following training camp this year by Chicago after three seasons and 22 starts. This year, he spent a month and a half with the Titans, making two game appearances before getting waived. He was then added to the Eagles’ practice squad before getting cut earlier this week.
As for the two cut players, Ozigbo had been with the team since mid-September. In fact, he was just signed to the active roster in late October when David Montgomery was dealing with an injury and Detroit lost both Mohamed Ibrahim and Zonovan Knight as depth. It’s entirely possible Ozigbo is back after more roster maneuvering, as they have signed him back to the practice squad once already.
Averett only spent about a month with the team and was never promoted to the gameday roster.