Levi Onwuzurike has continued to be plagued by back issues, and they will keep him off the field in 2022. The defensive lineman underwent season-ending surgery during the Lions’ bye week, as detailed by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
The 2021 second-rounder had similar troubles coming out of college, though the Lions were aware of them. He missed most of training camp in his rookie season, but was able to suit up for 16 games. Playing a rotational role, he registered 35 tackles and one sack, potentially setting him up for a step forward in Year 2.
Instead, Onwuzurike suffered a setback during the team’s first padded practice this summer, which landed him on IR at the start of the season. The Washington alum did not see the field at all following the August 1 reaggravation of his back disc issues, which left his 2022 availability in serious doubt to begin with.
“I mean it’s a last resort,” head coach Dan Campbell said of the decision to have the 24-year-old go under the knife. “Felt like that was – he felt like that’s where he needed to go with it and saw a number of doctors and so we’ll see where it goes.”
With Onwuzurike officially shelved for the season, the Lions’ underwhelming defensive front will carry on with Michael Brockers and Alim McNeill as starters along the interior, with Isaiah Buggs and Demetrius Taylor operating as rotational options. The Lions are also awaiting the return of edge rushers Romeo Okwara and Josh Paschal, which are likely to come at different points this season.