Dan Campbell offers options for Lions to replace Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Lions head coach Dan Campbell said the only things he can about Halapoulivaati’s Vaitai’s absence, even stretching for at least one way to replace him.
The Detroit Lions never had all five of their starting offensive lineman on the field together last season, as in not a single snap. They’ll open this season without a starter up front again, with right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai going on IR on Monday. He will miss at least the first four games of the season.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell made what will be his weekly Tuesday appearance on 97.1 The Ticket on Tuesday. He said the only things he can say about Vaitai’s absence.
"Yeah, it’s frustrating, but by the same token, this is what we preach all the time with our team,” Dan Campbell said Tuesday on the Stoney & Jansen Show. “And man, nobody’s going to handle adversity better than us. We went through so much last year and we adapted and our guys were ready to go and it was next man up. So, man, this is nothing for us. We’ll overcome this, we’ll be fine.”It hurts to lose Big V, man,” he said. “He was a big part of what we did and he was a great team guy. He’ll still be in the building, but that’s life in the NFL and we move on.”"
Dan Campbell offers some options to replace Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Campbell went on to talk about some ways the Lions can fill the void left by Vaitai.
"We can kick (Penei) Sewell down to guard. We could bump (Matt) Nelson up. We could move Frank over. We could put Jonah (Jackson) at right (guard), Logan left. We could bring Kraemer back up to right guard. We’ve got options, and we’re going to make this work.”"
Moving Penei Sewell in to right guard feels like a reach, leaving aside the obvious drop-off to Matt Nelson at right tackle by doing so. Nelson played a lot last season when left tackle Taylor Decker was out and Sewell moved to the left side, but he’s a below average player. Even though Sewell could make the move inside seamlessly, you’d arguably be weakening two spots.
Among the options Campbell talked about, moving Jonah Jackson over to right guard and having Logan Stenberg step at left guard makes some sense. Frank Ragnow played left guard as a rookie, and Evan Brown played well in his place at center last season.
The easiest move would be to plug in Stenberg or Tommy Kreamer at right guard for Vaitai and move no one else around. But the Lions have options, which is a testament to having a better roster this year. A more notable outside addition than waiver wire pickup Drew Forbes wouldn’t be ideal at this point, days before the season starts, but that shouldn’t be ruled out.
Update: Kraemer appears to be starting right guard for Week 1 against the Eagles.