| The Detroit News
After battling a foot injury for the duration of the season, the Detroit Lions finally acknowledged offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai needed to be shut down to get right.
The team placed him on injured reserve Wednesday, signing wide receiver Mohamed Sanu off the practice squad to fill the roster spot.
Vaitai, one of the team’s top free-agent targets this offseason, was supposed to replace Rick Wagner at right tackle. But after exiting the field multiple times during training camp with injuries, Vaitai cropped up on the season’s initial practice report with the foot issue that’s continued to plague him all year.
After missing the first two games due to the injury, Vaitai debuted for the Lions in Week 3, but at right guard, not right tackle. And he struggled mightily in that contest, allowing two sacks in that win against Arizona.
Vaitai has primarily continued to play at guard, starting just one game against Indianapolis at the spot he was projected to begin the year, all while being limited in practice by the foot. He also was sidelined a third game, sitting out the team’s victory against Washington.
This past week, Vaitai exited the game against Carolina at the half and didn’t return.
“‘Big V’ is out there battling every day, and I think he’s pushing through some things that have restricted him a little bit,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said earlier this week. “He’s a tough guy. He just goes out and really tries to do everything he can to help the team. At that point, I’ll probably leave it at that, as far as that’s concerned. But he’s tough, and he’s fighting through all of it the best he can.”
With Vaitai out, the Lions most recently turned to veteran Oday Aboushi. The team also has Joe Dahl, who started at left guard last season but has battled groin and back injuries in 2020, limiting his effectiveness.
Tyrell Crosby will continue to start at right tackle.
As for Sanu, the nine-year veteran made is Lions’ debut last week, playing 15 snaps against Carolina. He wasn’t targeted in the loss.
In addition to roster adjustment, the team also announced the temporary elevation of cornerback Dee Virgin and defensive tackle Albert Huggins for Thursday’s game against Houston.
If active on Thursday, it would be Huggins’ debut in Detroit. The team figures to be short-handed with Da’Shawn Hand on track to miss his second consecutive game.