Hyder injury leaves Lions even thinner on defensive line
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
ALLEN PARK — There’s no official word yet from the Detroit Lions about whether defensive end Kerry Hyder will miss the season.
What’s clear is that the Lions are coming to grips with the idea of having to play without him.
“We’ve got a very good group. We’re very confident,” defensive tackle Akeem Spence said. “That’s a very big loss, but we’ve got the guys in the room to step up.”
Coach Jim Caldwell had nothing to add Monday on Hyder’s condition, but he said the Lions might have more to say in the next couple of days.
Hyder was carted off the field in Sunday’s exhibition game at Indianapolis. Caldwell said after the game it looked like a “significant” Achilles tendon injury.
“We’ll probably have something to announce maybe in the next 24, 48 hours or so,” Caldwell said Monday.
Detroit is dealing with injuries on both the offensive and defensive lines. Tackle Taylor Decker and defensive end Ziggy Ansah are on the physically unable to perform list.
Hyder led the Lions with eight sacks last season, and the team’s runner-up — Devin Taylor — is with the New York Giants now. Ansah had 14 1/2 sacks in 2015, but only two last season.
“We’ve got a long time between now and when preseason is over with,” Caldwell said. “We’ll just see how things go. We got some young guys with some talent. They have some ability. And we’ll see what happens.”
Detroit’s depth on the defensive line was already going to be tested because of suspensions to Armonty Bryant and Khyri Thornton, so the team’s health issues there have come at a tough time.
The Lions can take solace in the fact that they have plenty of time before the first game, but the pass rush will now be an area to watch throughout the preseason.
While veteran Haloti Ngata is still in the middle of the defensive line, the Lions may increasingly have to rely on defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, defensive end Anthony Zettel and defensive end Cornelius Washington. Those three have a combined seven NFL starts.
“Obviously, you’re going to miss a guy like Kerry,” Caldwell said. “He’s an outstanding player for us, he’s been tough and those kinds of things.
“But, just like anything else, we’ve got to find a way and I think we got a number of young guys that are great candidates in that regard, and we’ve got some older guys that are going to have to step up and play. So, that’s kind of how we approach it.”
Robinson started five games and had two sacks as a rookie last season after the Lions drafted him in the second round out of Alabama, so it’s reasonable for Detroit to expect a significant contribution from him.
“He had a pretty solid game the other day and did some of the things he’s accustomed to doing,” Caldwell said.
“He put pressure on the quarterback by knocking his guy back into the pocket, and certainly when he gets pushed, it just ties in together with him getting his hands up in the throwing lane and tipping a few here and there. But he’s coming along well.”
Hyder’s emergence last year was a surprise, since he’d appeared in only one NFL game previously. Now the Lions hope some of their other less-heralded lineman can help make up for his absence.
“Kerry is a big brother to me. Having him in the room, he has one of the biggest hearts, and he plays it and shows it out there, day in and day out,” Robinson said. “We just dedicate everything we do for him.”
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