All through the offseason, we (and plenty of others) have been mentioning that the Detroit Lions could have one of the top offensive lines in the entire NFL if they are able to remain healthy. Unfortunately, news broke on Monday that RG Halapoulivaati Vaitai has been placed on the IR list, which means he will be forced to miss at least the first four games of the 2022 season.
As soon as the news broke, plenty of fans took to social media to say, “here we go again,” and that the Lions' biggest strength is no longer as strong as we thought it would be.
Yes, losing Vaitai is not optimal for the Lions but if they had to lose one of their starting offensive linemen, Vaitai would certainly be the choice. Now, this is no disrespect to Vatai as a player, because he was solid in 2021 and had a very good preseason, but for anyone who knows how an offensive line in the NFL works, there is no question about it that right guard is the least important position.
How the Detroit Lions will survive losing Halapoulivaati Vaitai
So, how will the Lions survive losing Vaitai for at least the first four games of the 2022 season?
Well, there are really two options that Dan Campbell and the coaching staff will consider. Those two options are backup offensive guards Tommy Kraemer and Logan Stenberg.
Both Kraemer and Stenberg have seen action during the preseason as the second-team guards and both have played well. In fact, heading into the start of the offseason, most thought Stenberg would end up being cut but he has played so well during training camp, both in practice and in the games, that he forced the Lions to put him on the initial 53-man roster.
When it comes down to it, it seems like it is a pretty easy decision for the Lions to insert Kraemer as the starting right guard as that is where he has primarily played during his NFL (and college) career. Stenberg, on the other hand, has played almost exclusively at left guard and though he could move to the right side, it seems like giving Kraemer the first shot at replacing Vaitai is the way to go.
Nation, who do you think should replace Halapoulivaati Vaitai on the Detroit Lions offensive line?