Detroit Lions sign two tight ends after Shane Zylstra injury

After waiving Shane Zylstra with a injury designation, the Detroit Lions added two tight ends on Wednesday.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tight end Shane Zylstra suffered a significant knee injury on a questionable hit from cornerback Khalil Dorsey during Monday's practice, then the Detroit Lions inevitably waived him with an injury designation on Tuesday. The open roster spot was sure to be filled with a tight end.

Wednesday morning, after head coach Dan Campbell said they had two new tight ends in the fold, the Lions announced the signings of Darrell Daniels and Daniel Helm. Tight end Derrick Deese Jr. was waived, and cornerback Emmanuel Mosely was officially placed on the PUP list now that he's back with the team.

A Tuesday report, which was quickly redacted before the move to waive Zylstra was announced, the Lions were signing Helm came to be true. He played for the Memphis Showboats in the USFL this spring, and he has spent time with six NFL teams since coming into the league as an undrafted free agent out of Duke in 2019 (one career regular season catch).

Daniels came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2017 with the Indianapolis Colts. He started the 2018 season with the Seattle Seahawks, before landing with the Arizona Cardinals late that season. He spent the 2019-2021 seasons in Arizona, with new Lions tight ends coach Steve Heiden as his position coach. He was out of the league most of last season, shy of a brief stint on the Colts' practice squad, but that history with Heiden surely drove the Lions signing him.

Detroit Lions training camp: Will one of the two new tight ends make the 53-man roster?

Helm feels like a proverbial camp body for the Lions. Daniels, based on his history working with Heiden, is a little more interesting. The Lions seem likely to keep four tight ends on the 53-man roster going into the season, and three spots are spoken for (Sam LaPorta, Brock Wright, James Mitchell). Zylstra had the inside track to that fourth spot with a good start to camp, before his injury obviously changed things. That spot is open now, for someone to take.

The No. 3 or No. 4 tight end spot is not one that moves the needle for most fans. But the Lions have some extra competition in the room now, which Campbell noted on Wednesday.

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