Lions guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai had back surgery, not ruled out for the season

Credit: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Credit: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Lions right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai has had back surgery, but Dan Campbell is not ready to rule him out for the season.

When Halapoulivaati Vaitai was placed on IR to start the season due to a back injury, surgery seemed possible for the Detroit Lions’ starting right guard. On Wednesday, head coach Dan Campbell said “Big V” indeed had surgery, in Dallas but he is not being ruled out for the season.

After the Lions did not have their starting five offensive lineman on the field for a single snap last season, Vaitai’s injury postponed that idea for at leas the first four games. Now, after surgery, him only missing four games (or three more to be more precise) is out the window barring a miraculous recovery.

The Lions offensive line also has center Frank Ragnow a little banged up with a groin injury, but the unit performed pretty well against a stout Philadelphia Eagles defensive line in Week 1.

How will the Lions replace Halapoulivaati Vaitai?

As we know, with originally listed replacement for Vaitai Tommy Kraemer out with his own back injury, Logan Stenberg stepped in a right guard against Philadelphia. And he struggled, especially in pass protection.

But as the Lions considered their right guard options (including kicking right tackle Penei Sewell inside), the third-year man had hardly any practice at the guard spot opposite the one he played in the preseason. Former NFL offensive lineman Artis Hicks once compared switching sides like that to learning how to write with your other hand.

If and when he’s healthy, which seems to be a big ‘if’, Kraemer could step in at right guard as he was listed on the early Week 1 depth chart. But Stenberg probably has the starting job replacing Vaitai until further notice, with room to improve as time goes on.

It’s absolutely possible Vaitai is eventually ruled out for the season.

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