Detroit Lions offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai is back in action after having missed the entire 2022 season with a back injury that required surgery. And despite being only one game into the 2023 schedule, he's already made an indelible impression on his teammates and coaching staff of what he can bring to the table.
Detroit Lions OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai missed all of last season
Vaitai, who signed with the Lions in 2020 after spending the first portion of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, received medical clearance to play for the first time in over a calendar year after having undergone surgery.
He's made a good impression on his team in 2023, including Dan Campbell
“He earned that spot, he earned the right to be there, but Graham also had a great camp,” Lions offensive line coach Hank Fraley said Tuesday. “We are very blessed to have six guys, seven guys — really that whole room you can count on, especially Graham. We just, it’s hard to play with six O-linemen. You’re not really threatening the ball down the field.”
Additionally, according to Pro Football Focus, Vaitai was the highest graded Lions offensive player during the Week 1 win over Kansas City.
“Solid,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “I thought he stepped up in there. That was the most plays he had since the injury. I thought he handled them well. I would say it was a positive, It was positive. He’s got things to clean up as we all do, but it was a positive showing for him. It’s encouraging to see him back out there.”
TL;DR (too long didn't read)
- Detroit Lions OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai is back in action after having missed all of 2022 with an injury that required surgery
- After receiving medical clearance to be able to play in 2023, Vaitai has already made a great impression on his team
- Both offensive line coach Hank Fraley and head coach Dan Campbell were full of good things to say about Vaitai
Bottom Line: Can Vaitai help the Lions go 2-0?
The Lions took care of what they needed to last week against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on the road, and Vaitai played a key role in helping his team secure the win.
He and the rest of the team are now preparing to face the Seattle Seahawks at Ford Field in Week 2.