The Detroit Lions made several roster moves on Tuesday afternoon, none bigger than placing defensive tackle Alim McNeill on injured reserve. With an open spot on the 53-man roster, the Lions signed corner Kindle Vildor off their practice squad. Additionally, the Lions released EDGE Raymond Johnson from the practice squad, opening two spots, which they filled by signing defensive tackle Tyson Alualu and offensive lineman Matt Farniok.
McNeill was in the midst of his best season in the NFL and was seeing nearly 70% of defensive snaps per game. He was the LionsI primary 3-technique, was second on the team in pressures (33), and was a force against the run. McNeill will now miss the next four weeks of the regular season and will be eligible to return to the roster in Week 18.
On a positive note, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, McNeill’s knee injury is only a sprain and he is expected to return to the active roster at the end of the season in time for the Lions’ potential playoff run.
With McNeill on IR, the Lions have four defensive tackles on their active roster, including fellow starter Benito Jones, Levi Onwuzurike, Isaiah Buggs, and rookie Brodric Martin. The Lions also have Quinton Bohanna—and now Alualu—on their practice squad, and while he has played in each of the Lions' last three games, he is out of roster elevations and would need to be signed to the active roster in order to play again.
As far as who will start next to Jones, the logical first option is Onwuzurike, who is the only other 3-technique on the roster. But don’t expect the Lions to count on only Onwuzurike to absorb McNeill’s snaps. Look for more inside reps from John Cominsky and Josh Paschal.
Alualu will also be able to contribute and could be an option with Bohanna out of elevations, but at 36 years old and not having played in almost a year, he will likely need some time to acclimate back to football.
Vildor is an experienced corner, who has 22 NFL games started over the last four seasons, with all of them coming while on the Chicago Bears roster. He will bring a veteran presence to the Lions' secondary, which should help them down the stretch.