It didn't look good from the moment Kerry Hyder Jr. went down midway through the first quarter in Detroit's preseason opener in Indianapolis back in August. He immediately grabbed for the back of his lower leg, and was soon on a cart headed off the field.
The diagnosis was a significant Achilles injury and a place on the injured reserve list. His season was over before it ever really got going.
Hyder had a breakout season for Detroit in 2016, going from camp body and roster long shot at the beginning of training camp to leading the Lions in sacks with eight for the year. He was the third-highest graded defender on Detroit's roster in 2016, per Pro Football Focus, and led the team with 35 quarterback pressures.
He was going to start this season opposite Ziggy Ansah, and have a shot to become a steady force for Detroit's defense. Unfortunately, that was all put on hold in Indianapolis.
Hyder was back in Allen Park this week for his exit interview with the front office and coaching staff, and stopped to talk to the media for a few minutes. As always, Hyder was upbeat about his recovery and emphatically stated he'll be better than ever in 2018.
"Everyone is turning down," Hyder said. "I'm pretty much turning up on the training aspect.
"This is pretty much my offseason during in-season this year. So, I'm going to ramp it up this offseason. I'm going to really train hard and rehab and get ready for the season."
The Lions' defense missed Hyder's production this season and his relentless motor. Detroit's 35 sacks on the year ranked 20th, with 35 percent of those coming from Ansah, who finished the season with 12.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn, when asked about strengths and weaknesses on the roster this week, said he needs to add pieces to the defense. Adding along Detroit's defensive front is likely high on that list.
Hyder is an exclusive-rights free agent this offseason, which means the Lions control his contract rights. How he comes back from a major injury will have an impact on what Detroit's defensive front might look like next season.
"I don't know how to half-[butt] it and not go hard," Hyder said of the way he's going to attack this offseason. "I'm going to work hard, and if you all know me by now, you know I work hard and I'm not going to let anything stop me.
"I'm excited. I haven't talked to you all in a long time. I'm excited to come back and I'm ready. I can't wait."