ALLEN PARK – Soccer is a beautiful game full of extraordinary violence, and everyone gets injured at the end of the day. But the Detroit Lions aren’t just suffering from a string of injuries. They have a rash Back Injuries specifically, which prompted the team to consider whether there was something they were doing – or not doing – that was causing injuries.
“It’s a good question because you can’t help but at least look at it and say, ‘OK, are we doing something? Do we need to do something different? Is there something we’re not doing right?'” Coach Dan Campbell said. All in all, and there’s nothing I can think of right now that says we did something we shouldn’t have done.”
Four players from the initial roster of 53 currently suffer from back injuries. First, a defensive tackle, Levi Onozuriki struggled with back injuries dating back to his days at the University of Washington. Detroit took him into the second round last year anyway, believing that his upside as an inside pass outweighs the risk of getting injured again.
Instead, Onwuzurike missed his entire rookie boot camp as he dealt with more back pain, and then didn’t make it through the first padded workout of the season before going down with another. The Lions waited injured for more than five weeks hoping for Onozuriki to return in time for the start of the season, but he eventually put him on injured reserve on the eve of the opening match. He will miss at least the first four games of the season, and at least nine weeks of training overall.
Across the trench, Tommy Kramer—Detroit’s oldest reserve guard—hit a back injury late in training camp. He began missing training in the final week of pre-season, then missed the final before eventually going into injured reserve this week.
Halbolivati Phaetay, the right starting guard, developed back pain the same week as Kramer. He played all 29 picks with the rest of the first team’s offensive line against Pittsburgh, but grabbed his back at least once along the way, later going into reserve injured due to injury and eventually recommended back surgery. He underwent that operation Tuesday night in Dallas, and it remains unclear if he will play again in 2022.
“This is to monitor,” Campbell said. “He will certainly be out for a while here, but we do not rule out that he has left the season.”
Injuries to Faytay and Kramer forced Detroit to dig deep on the bench, as Logan Stenberg—who has played only four offensive games in his career—started on the right-hand defense against Philadelphia. An injury to goalkeeper Jonah Jackson’s left toe has exacerbated the situation this week, and Kayud Oosica, who has signed for Philadelphia’s coaching staff, could force a start on Sunday against Washington.
To make matters worse, angler Amani Urwari started having back pain this week as well. He got ready for training on Thursday and tried to warm up with his teammates, but eventually told the medical staff that he had a problem with his lower back. He tried to stretch for more than 5 minutes, but eventually got scratched from training and went back inside the training facility. He didn’t train on Friday either and considers him heading day in and day out into the game against the leaders.
This is four players from the initial roster of 53 players now with back injuries. And that doesn’t even include receiver Quintez Cephus, who missed training camp for two weeks due to a back injury he sustained while doing an acrobatic.
“We’ll turn every stone over, and if we feel it’s something I need to change or modify, I’ll definitely do it,” Campbell said. “But I can’t say there’s now anything we’ve done differently. We’re smart in how we train. Anytime a guy recovers issues, we don’t put a load on his back. It’s a one-legged squat (and stuff like that). So, there’s A number of things we’re trying to do. I feel like we’re really good at it. But those are definitely showing off.”