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Report: Shane Zylstra’s season in jeopardy after ‘significant knee injury’ at training camp

Detroit Lions Shane Zylstra suffered a significant injury during Day 8 of training camp and reports are that it could cost him his season.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Near the end of Day 8 of Detroit Lions training camp, tight end Shane Zylstra took a brutal hit to his knee from cornerback Khalil Dorsey that required trainers' attention. He was eventually able to stand with assistance, and even put some weight on it as he exited the field in Allen Park, but the hit was significant enough that it looked like it had the potential to be problematic.

Unfortunately, according to a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Zylstra’s injury is expected to be serious enough that he is “now expected to miss six months.”

Rapoport did suggest that Zylstra would be getting more tests to confirm expectations, “but there isn’t a lot of optimism.” It’s a tough blow for the third-year tight end who was looking to build on a 2022 season that saw him record 11 receptions and four touchdowns. Zylstra had opened camp as TE3—behind rookie Sam LaPorta and Brock Wright—and had been contributing in a variety of ways.

If Zylstra’s injury is indeed as significant as Rapoport is suggesting, the Lions would be down to four tight ends on their roster: LaPorta, Wright, James Mitchell, and Derrick Deese. Mitchell had been trending upwards as of late and was directly competing with Zylstra for playing time, which should give the team a bit of cushion when searching for a replacement. At the same time, it’s worth pointing out that LaPorta also exited practice early on Monday, but it’s unclear as to the reason why.

If Zylstra’s injury is significant enough to end his season, the Lions will likely release him with an injury designation, hoping for him to clear waivers and revert back to the roster—similarly to what happened with Tom Kennedy earlier in camp. At that point, the Lions can decide if they want to place him on injured reserve or release him with an injury settlement if they/he believe(s) he is capable of playing again this season. Zylstra is currently playing on a 1-year contract but will be a restricted free agent following this season. Therefore, if the Lions decide to keep him on injured reserve, they would maintain his contractual rights heading into the 2024 offseason.

The Lions have a day off from training camp on Tuesday, so expect another update from coach Dan Campbell on Wednesday when the team returns to Allen Park for practices.

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