Lions Place G Halapoulivaati Vaitai On IR

SEPTEMBER 6: While the issue affecting the veteran lineman’s availability remains a mystery, it is far from certain he comes back when first eligible. Vaitai is not a lock to play in 2022, according to’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Kraemer will be Detroit’s right guard starter, according to the official depth chart the team released Tuesday morning.

SEPTEMBER 5: Halapoulivaati Vaitai‘s third Lions season will not begin on time. The veteran offensive lineman is now on Detroit’s IR, mandating a four-game absence. The nature of Vaitai’s injury is unkonwn.

The well-paid blocker is expected to return as the Lions’ right guard starter, but the team will need to make other plans for its September slate. This will be Vaitai’s second IR trip since he signed with the Lions in 2020. The team also claimed guard Drew Forbes off waivers from the Browns on Monday.

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A former Eagles draftee, Vaitai missed six games in 2020 due to a foot injury but returned to play in 15 last year. Vaitai, 29, represents part of a Lions source of optimism; both he and left guard Jonah Jackson ranked as a top-30 guards (per Pro Football Focus) in 2021. Along with former first-rounders Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow and Penei Sewell, the Lions are expected to field one of the league’s top O-lines.

Detroit’s fill-ins from 2020 are no longer on the roster, though Forbes is now in the mix. The team now rosters four backup interior O-linemen — a group that also includes 2020 fourth-rounder Logan Stenberg, fifth-year veteran Evan Brown and 2021 UDFA Tommy Kraemer. Brown served as Ragnow’s primary backup last season, and Kraemer made three starts in 2021. Neither Forbes nor Stenberg has started a regular-season game.

The Lions gave Vaitai a five-year, $45MM contract in free agency two years ago. He is due to count $8.7MM on the team’s 2022 payroll.

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