Lions sign former first-round pick defensive lineman Tyson Alualu

In need of some reinforcements, the Detroit Lions have reportedly signed veteran defensive lineman Tyson Alualu.
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions may be without emerging star defensive tackle Alim McNeill this week, and perhaps longer, after he suffered an apparent right leg injury last Sunday. With a need to try to fill that void, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported Tuesday afternoon the Lions will sign veteran defensive tackle Tysom Alaalu.

A confirmation from the team will likely come on Wednesday. As Justin Rogers of the Detroit News added, as is standard practice these days, Alaalu will be signed initially to the Lions' practice squad. Just like what was recently done with Bruce Irvin.

Alualu was a first-round pick (10th overall) by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2010. He never lived up that status as a top-10 overall pick, but sticking around in the league for 13 years, seven with Jacksonville and last six with the Pittsburgh Steelers, is something.

Alualu played all 17 games for the Steelers last season, with 13 tackles and 0.5 sacks over 291 defensive snaps. Overall he has played in 191 regular season games (113 starts) and two playoff games in his career.

Lions add experience to defensive line mix with Tyson Alualu

Alualu's best seasons came with the Steelers in 2019 and 2020. He was graded as Pro Football Focus' fifth-best interior defensive lineman in 2019, with 41 total tackles, four tackles for loss and one sack. In 2020, he was graded by PFF as their 12th-best interior defensive tackle with 38 total tackles and two sacks.

A broken ankle limited Alualu to just two games in 2021, and his play fell off last season. Which further explains, at 36 years old, why he was still available into December. He'll bring a veteran presence to a room that includes McNeill, Isaiah Buggs, Levi Onwuzurike, Benito Jones and rookie Brodric Martin.

If Alualu follows a similar track to Irvin, except without a short week to follow his first full week of practice, he would be in line to make his Lions' debut in Week 15 against the Denver Broncos.


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