Lions Defensive Lineman Lost for Season After Undergoing Surgery

Levi Onwuzurike

Getty Levi Onwuzurike on the field during Lions training camp in 2021.

The Detroit Lions were hoping for some good injury news coming out of the bye week, and while plenty of positive updates do exist, one negative will once again overshadow things.

Defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike, who’s been on injured reserve since the start of the season, has made the decision to undergo back surgery. Detroit head coach Dan Campbell revealed that to the media on Monday, October 17.

Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press was present, and tweeted about the tough news for the defense.

“Lions DT Levi Onwuzurike underwent back surgery last week, out for the season. Campbell said surgery was “a last resort.” Obviously, Onwuzurike wasn’t getting better, had dealt with this since last season. A loss for the Lions, but defense already was playing without him,” Birkett tweeted.

Losing Onwuzurike officially is the culmination of the bad news for the Lions on the young defensive lineman. Last year, Onwuzurike battled injury through an up and down season. He did decently, but struggled to be consistent on the field and showed the typical learning curve for a young player.

Now, Onwuzurike will have a hard time making gains given the fact that he isn’t playing. That’s probably why Campbell sounded so frustrated with where his injury was trending a few weeks back.

The Lions had hoped Onwuzurike could come back this season, but clearly, that isn’t happening. Now, all eyes will be turned toward 2023 for the lineman.

Onwuzurike’s Future Unsettled Thanks to Injury

If there’s been one player to show as injury-prone under Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell, it’s Onwuzurike. For that reason, it isn’t hard to say that the Lions probably wanted much, much more from their second-year player.

Onwuzurike also had injury problems while playing at Washington, which was a red flag of his coming into the draft. Still, the Lions took the gamble and picked Onwuzurike, hoping to get lucky and develop him.

Thus far, luck has not been on their side. Onwuzurike has only played in 16 total games with no starts, and has just 35 tackles and one sack to his credit. Worse, he may be passed up on the depth chart by other players the rest of the year.

The Lions may look to add more beef to the line next year in the draft, so Onwuzurike will have to wait and see where he’s at during the offseason.

Onwuzurike’s Setbacks Frustrating for Lions

Coming into the season, the hope was that Onwuzurike could play a major role for Detroit’s defensive line, and the expectation was that Onwuzurike would play a key depth role.

Many thought that based on what he showed late last year, Onwuzurike had a chance of breaking out. Unfortunately for the Lions, that will struggle to take place given the fact that he will now be off the field for at least the first four weeks of the season.

Last year, Onwuzurike started the season dinged up and didn’t make much of an impact until the end of the year. The hope was he could step up quicker this year, but it didn’t happen. Now, the concern will be his long-term ability to make an impact at all.

The hope is Onwuzurike heals up in time to make an impact at some point in his Detroit career. After this news, it’s going to have to wait until 2023.

READ NEXT: Lions Fans Plead for Defensive Lineman Trade

Read More