When I first heard that Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas underwent knee surgery early in training camp, my stomach started churning. To hear that one of Detroit’s best defensive players would be shut down for several weeks was disconcerting to say the least.
Delmas, while injury prone, has been one of the Lions’ most valuable players since they drafted him in 2009. His fast-paced, hard-hitting style gives the secondary attitude, which they simply don’t have without him.
In 2011, Delmas missed five games. In those five games, Detroit’s defense gave up 122 more total yards, 128 more passing yards, and 5.6 more points per game.
I understand that backup John Wendling has been filling in nicely for Delmas, but with Wendling in the lineup, the Lions aren’t the same. Wendling may not make bad plays, but he won’t provide the big hits and athleticism that Delmas offers.
Delmas’ return is still uncertain, but head coach Jim Schwartz has said he remains week-to-week, not day-to-day.
Now, it seems clear that Delmas will not see action in the preseason, which puts his status for the regular season opener in doubt. While Detroit should beat the Rams at home with me playing safety, Lions fans should still be uneasy whenever Delmas is watching from the sidelines.
And who’s to say the injury won’t linger on past Detroit’s first game? Delmas could miss considerable action, as this same knee has been plaguing him for some time.
Should Delmas miss time, the rest of the secondary will have to step up in a huge way. It will be Wendling and Erik Coleman who will be asked to fill Delmas’ shoes, a tall task for anyone in the league.
And unfortunately, it’s a task I don’t see either one of them fulfilling.
The truth is this: without Louis Delmas, the Lions are not a playoff team. Unless Delmas is able to get healthy and stay healthy, Detroit’s schedule is too tough to win 10+ games, which is what it will take to earn a wildcard spot in the NFC this year.
The Lions fate may rest solely on one man’s knee.
No pressure Louis.
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