The Detroit Lions may or may not have been making plans to have backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld on their 53-man roster to begin the 2023 NFL season. But either way, there’s now a good chance he will spend the entire campaign on injured reserve.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell, though, is holding out hope that Sudfeld avoided the serious knee injury. Campbell told reporters on August 28, about 30 minutes before Schefter’s report on Twitter, that Sudfeld is seeking a second opinion from another doctor.
Even if Sudfeld receives better news from the second doctor, he very likely will not be ready to begin the season. After the preseason game on August 25, Campbell admitted that the backup quarterback could “be out for a bit.”
Without Sudfeld, Teddy Bridgewater will serve as Jared Goff’s backup quarterback to begin the 2023 season. The Lions also have rookie Hendon Hooker, but he is expected to start the season on the non-football injury list.
Lions’ QB Nate Sudfeld Reportedly Has Torn ACL
Sudfeld received a lot of playing time this preseason, especially in the first matchup against the New York Giants. That proved to be crucial for Sudfeld because midway through the preseason, he found himself in a quarterback competition.
On August 7, the Lions signed Bridgewater. Upon the signing, the expectation was Bridgewater would slide into the No. 2 quarterback role. But Sudfeld still had a chance to stay with the Lions as a potential third signal caller.
Sudfeld, though, struggled to find a rhythm during the preseason. He completed just a tad more than half of his passes, going 26-for-51 for 291 yards. Sudfeld averaged just 5.7 yards with 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions as well.
With his injury, Lions fans will never know for certain whether Bridgewater beat out Sudfeld for the backup quarterback role. But more than likely, that was the case, and there were suggestions in the media that before the knee injury, Sudfeld was likely a cut candidate for Detroit.
Sudfeld Injury Supports Dan Campbell’s Preseason Decision
Also on August 28, the Lions head coach addressed why the team’s starters didn’t play more during the preseason. Campbell pointed to his squad’s hard practices and injury risks as the main factors.
“For me, it was always going to be about — the nature of the way we practice,” Campbell told reporters. “We’re pretty physical, I think relative to most teams in the league. And we had two joint practices, two teams that we had joint practices with that were going to be pretty physical.
“To me, that was — those were going to serve as building blocks to get our core ready. Just knowing where we were this game at relative to playing K.C. [in Week 1], at that point you’re under two weeks, I just didn’t feel like it was worth the risk.
“I feel pretty good about what we did.”
In the future, Campbell can just point to Sudfeld’s injury as a reason to avoid playing starters more in the preseason. The Lions lost a backup at a key position during a meaningless game.