Detroit's five starters along their offensive line didn't play a single game together in 2021 as a unit due to injury.
It will be at least four weeks into the 2022 season before we potentially see the starting five together on the field after the team placed starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai on Reserve/Injured Monday with an undisclosed injury.
Vaitai started Detroit's third and final preseason game in Pittsburgh last week and played all 29 snaps with his fellow starters upfront, but was absent from the open portion of practice last Thursday. Now we know why.
Vaitai, a big free-agent acquisition by the team in 2020 after beginning his career in Philadelphia, made the move from tackle to guard in Detroit and started 15 games at right guard in 2021.
This is not ideal for the Lions heading into a Week 1 matchup against a really strong Philadelphia Eagles defensive line. The Lions could opt to start backup guards Logan Stenberg or Tommy Kraemer, or even potentially backup center/guard Evan Brown in Vaitai's place.
Teams are allowed to return a maximum of eight players from IR during the season, and players are eligible to return from IR after four games have elapsed since being placed on the list. That would put Vaitai's earliest return possibility Week 5 in New England.
To fill Vaitai's roster spot, the team claimed Drew Forbes off waivers from Cleveland on Monday. A former sixth-round pick out of Southeastern Missouri State in 2019, Forbes played in two games in 2019 and one game last season for the Browns.