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Lions’ rookie Levi Onwuzurike out with health issue, sees specialist

There haven’t been too many showings of Levi Onwuzurike during training camp recently. And during his Wednesday morning press conference, Dan Campbell acknowledged why.

Per Campbell, Onwuzurike is being held out of practice as he is dealing with lingering health issues. The Detroit Lions head coach noted that the problems date back to his playing days at Washington

“He’s kind of had a tight back and some things. So we just wanted to get some clarity on where that was at,” Campbell told reporters. “So we’ve kind of sent him around to a couple of specialists, just making sure. And everything seems to be good.”

Because of that, Campbell said the team is focusing on rehabbing and some strength conditioning for the rookie defensive tackle this week. He further stated the team expects Onwuzurike’s return next week. 

When asked if there was concern about long-term effects, Campbell quelled that notion while addressing its serious nature.

“You’re always going to have some type of concern, but yet, man, I would say he’s young, he’s hungry, he works, [and] I think we got good people around him to help him,” said Campbell. “I think that we know what we’re looking at now because we’ve sent him to a couple of places, and I think he’ll be just fine.”

“I think he’ll be ok and that’s what we wanted clarity on, that we think this will be fine, and we’re ready to put him back in practice next week and let him grow.”

The Lions selected Levi Onwuzurike with the 41st overall pick this year’s draft. Alongside fellow rookie Alim McNeil, the Lions expect Onwuzurike to be a significant piece of their revamped defense under Aaron Glenn. Onwuzurike missing this Friday’s preseason opener against the Bills will be a loss for the team. His absence is a roadblock to his growth and development, which Dan Campbell acknowledged. 

Detroit Lions rookie Levi Onwuzurike sees specialist for lingering back issue.
Detroit Lions defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike (75) organized team activity at Lions headquarters in Allen Park, Thursday, May 27, 2021.

Despite saying that “it hurts,” Campbell doesn’t appear to be overly worried about it.

“You miss out on a good week, week and a half of some work in pads, but yet I’ll tell you there’s still time. There’s still time to get him there, and he’ll continue to grow as the season goes,” said Campbell. “We want him to develop. We want him to come along. I mean, that’s the reason we drafted him, but I also don’t want this to be like we’re in a hurry to do something he’s not ready for either.”

“We’ll take this as it comes because he’s willing to put in the work. It’s not like that. I mean, he’s hungry. He’s mad at us that we sent him somewhere else. He wants to practice, man. And you love that about him. But also, hey, let’s take it as it comes. And when he’s ready, he’s ready. If he’s not, he’s not.”

The Detroit Lions open their preseason against the Buffalo Bills on Friday at Ford Field. The kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Follow Kory Woods on Twitter at KoryEWoods.

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