Much-maligned Lions offensive lineman credited for elite level of play this season

Pro Football Focus revealed how the Detroit Lions are getting some elite play out of veteran guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai when he has been healthy.
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The Detroit Lions have enjoyed a good start to the 2023 season, and in large part, it's been driven by a solid performance from the offense.

Detroit may still have some improvements to make, but they have been a balanced offense, able to run the ball effectively as well as hit key pass plays. The biggest reason for that has been elite play from their offensive line.

Thus far, the group has had to battle untimely injury early in the season, but they've been able to remain elite while doing so. The play of veteran guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai has been a major positive for the Lions in that vein.

While Vaitai's five-year, $45 million dollar contract in 2020 made him a lightning rod for some, he has performed well so far this season.

The issue with Vaitai has not necessarily been his play, but rather his health. Since joining the Lions in 2020, Vaitai has only played in 27 games. He missed six games his first season, then he missed the entire 2022 season recovering from back surgery.

Still, as PFF's data shows, Vaitai can be a big asset for the Lions if he can stay healthy.

Dan Campbell hopes to have Halapoulivaati Vaitai back for Week 5

While Vaitai had had an excellent start this season, he has also been shelved for the last couple weeks due to a knee injury he sustained in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks.

Heading into Week 5, though, the news looks much better on the injury front for Vaitai. Speaking to the media on Friday morning, Campbell said he hopes to have "Big V" back against the Carolina Panthers.

Graham Glasgow has played well in Vaitai's place at right guard over the last two-plus games, so he won't be easily supplanted. But if the Lions adopt a "you can't lose your job due purely to injury" philosophy, Vaitai will be back lined up between Penei Sewell and Frank Ragnow when he's able.


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