The Detroit Lions have officially waived tight end Shane Zylstra after he sustained a significant knee injury, the team announced Tuesday.
The incident occurred on Monday, day 8 of Detroit Lions training camp in Allen Park, when Zylstra was hit low by linebacker Khalil Dorsey. The hit left Zylstra down for several minutes before training staff assisted him back to the locker room.
Though Zylstra was likely vying for the third or fourth spot on the depth chart, his injury is not an inconsequential loss to the team. He came onto the scene in 2022 following the trade of TJ Hockenson to the Minnesota Vikings, producing a three-touchdown game in Week 16 at Carolina. Zylstra’s aggressive, physical style of play certainly puts him in the category of a “Dan Campbell guy.” His absence leaves a minor void in the diversity of the playbook, with a skillset different from tight ends Brock Wright, Sam LaPorta, and James Mitchell.
Shuffling the Roster
To address the loss of Zylstra, the Lions subsequently waived tight end Derrick Deese Jr., and signed TE’s Darrell Daniels and Daniel Helm to the roster.
Darrell Daniels, an undrafted free agent rookie from the University of Washington, is the most experienced of the two. He’s spent time with the Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks, and Arizona Cardinals. In Arizona, he worked with current Lions TE coach Steve Heiden. Daniels was with the San Antonio Brahmas of the XFL last season.
Daniel Helm, on the other hand, has spent time with various NFL teams since his rookie season in 2019, including the Chargers, 49ers, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Raiders, and Falcons. With 20 receptions for 205 yards last season with the Memphis Showboats of the USFL, Helm adds another layer of competition for the Lions during training camp.
The Impact and What’s Next
Zylstra’s injury could sideline him for up to six months, according to NFL Media. With that, the move to waive him understandable yet unfortunate. His contribution as a tough, competitive player will be missed. The addition of Daniels and Helm shows the Lions’ determination to maintain depth and variety in the tight end position. The two new tight ends will likely compete for the fourth and final tight end spot on the team.
For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
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Original Photo Credit: © Dale Zanine – USA TODAY Sports