Lions Lineman Reportedly Suffers Torn ACL During OTA Session

Joel Heath

Getty Joel Heath celebrates a big play for Houston.

The Detroit Lions are looking to get off to a good start on the 2021 season in terms of health, but early on during the OTA session, the team has suffered a tough break.

On Wednesday, the Lions reportedly lost defensive lineman Joel Heath to a torn ACL. The news was first reported by Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, who said the injury was freak in nature and ended up taking place during a bag drill for the team.

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While Heath isn’t a big name, he was signed to a futures deal this offseason and is local in flavor given he attended Michigan State. He also has experience in the NFL, which could have come in handy for this Detroit team given the fact they were a bit thin on depth up front for the defense.

Hopefully, Heath can get healthy the rest of the way this offseason and heal up for the future.

Heath’s Stats

The 27 year-old Heath originally hails from Cincinnati, Ohio where he was an excellent prep player. Heath committed to Michigan State and played a solid role for the Spartans from 2012 to 2015, where he was a part of one of the winningest classes in Spartan football history which culminated in the 2015 Big Ten title as well as an appearance in the College Football Playoffs. In college, Heath put up 4.5 sacks, 2 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and 60 tackles, including 10.5 tackles for-loss. When he transitioned to the NFL, Heath has managed to put up 34 tackles and 3 sacks. He played with the Texans from 2016 to 2019 and signed with the Broncos for 2020, but sat out last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Detroit, Heath can be a guy who clogs the lanes and provides a bit of pocket push for the Lions if he is able to fight his way on the roster. Given the depth concerns and young players up front that will be coming in, that could be what the team was counting on him to do.

Lions Defensive Line

If there was a spot on the Detroit roster that should have been primed for some sort of upgrade, it was the defensive line. The Lions lacked depth in the middle, but adding Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill will help that in a big way. The deeper the Lions get in the middle of the line, the better off they will be in terms of getting better presence on the outside as well as depth.

If Onwuzurike was to be able to become a star, that would be a huge development for the Lions and their defensive line depth up front. Already, the depth has been upgraded, which is good to know ahead of a season in which the Lions have to get tougher up front on defense for a complete turnaround.

Without Heath, the group’s depth takes a bit more of a blow heading into the offseason.

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