Detroit Lions hire Denver Broncos’ Mike Sundeen as new head athletic trainer

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions have a new head athletic trainer.

The Lions hired Mike Sundeen from the Denver Broncos as their new head trainer, the second major addition they’ve made to their medical staff this offseason.

Sundeen replaces Kevin Bastin, who served as the Lions trainer in 2014-18 then returned for a two-year term early in the 2021 season after stepping away for the final two seasons of the Matt Patricia era.

In February, the Lions hired Arizzona Cardinals physical therapist consultant Brett Fischer as their director of player health and performance. Fischer is widely regarded as one of the top rehab specialists in the NFL, and worked with players from all teams at his Arizona-based practice, Fischer Institute Consulting, in the offseason.

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“He’s going to be a big part of our medical and performance advancement going forward,” Lions general manager Brad Holmes said at the combine last month. “He came highly recommended. … We’re always looking to get better in all areas of our organization, and going through this process and getting to know Brett, I quickly saw what everybody was saying about him. He’s a forward-thinking, he’s a collaborator and he will head our medical process, work in conjunction with Mike Clark and we just want to get better at our medical performance in general but most importantly just our player well-being, so I think Brett Fischer, he’s going to be a huge part in that.”

The Lions dealt with a string of injuries early last season that contributed to their 1-6 start.

Offensive skill players D’Andre Swift, Amon-Ra St. Brown, DJ Chark and Josh Reynolds missed a combined 13 games with ankle and shoulder injuries that in some cases limited their production throughout the year; linemen Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Tommy Kraemer and Levi Onwuzurike missed all of last season with back injuries; and safety Tracy Walker became the third prominent Lion to tear his Achilles tendon in 13 months.

Holmes and Lions coach Dan Campbell gave an optimistic update on Vaitai’s return from back surgery at the NFL’s annual spring meeting last week, but Campbell took a cautious tone while talking about Onwuzurike’s recovery.

A second-round pick in 2021, Onwuzurike played 16 games the past two seasons because of an injury he dealt with in college.

“He and Vaitai kind of fall in the same category of we just need to see how it is,” Campbell said. “We talked to him a couple of weeks ago, he was doing good, the rehab has gone well, but you just don’t know. You don’t know with a back. But I mean certainly, he’s going to get an opportunity if the body will allow it.”

Sundeen has worked for the Broncos since 2014 in a full-time role, according to his profile on the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society website. He also worked for the Broncos as an intern in 2010-12 after studying at Connecticut and Northern Colorado.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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