Chandler’s Cross, England — Lions general manager Martin Mayhew has no regrets about signing star linebacker DeAndre Levy to a lucrative contract extension in early August.
Less than three weeks later, a hip injury led to an extended absence for Levy, both from practice at the end of the summer and the first four games of the season. After aggravating the injury in his season debut in Week 5, Levy underwent surgery and is in danger of missing the rest of the season.
“He certainly is an outstanding football player and certainly was a guy who we wanted to retain,” Mayhew told beat reporters and team website employees Friday. “Injuries happen in this business, as you know, and he’s not the first guy to sign an extension and get hurt. That happens sometimes. You hate when it happens, but certainly, through no fault of his own, it’s a serious injury he’s dealing with.”
The strange timing of Levy’s injury — he played the first two exhibitions and said he suffered it in a padded practice after the second one — led to some speculation about whether his offseason travels to South America had some role in the ailment. However, Mayhew said Friday that Levy passed his pre-season physical and was 100 percent healthy when he signed the four-year extension, which is worth up to $33.8 million.
Levy, who will miss the upcoming game against the Chiefs in London, said last Sunday he planned to start jogging this week, though he declined to provide an update on his activity Friday.
“I’m on schedule,” he said.
The Lions defense, which ranks 27th overall, has struggled to overcome Levy’s absence this season, and Mayhew said it “remains to be seen” how Levy’s injury will impact him long term.
“This guy makes so many plays in so many different ways, whether it’s sacking the quarterback, intercepting passes (or) breaking passes up,” Mayhew said. “He’s great in coverage; he’s got range, so a lot of those third downs is when you really miss him.
“I remember the San Diego game going, ‘Man, I wish Levy was out there on the field.’ They were making so many plays on crossing routes and screens and things of that nature. Those are plays that DeAndre Levy makes.”
Levy has not practiced this week, but he’s still enjoying the trip overseas. With the off day Tuesday, he visited Stonehenge, driving about 90 minutes each way on the left side of the road to see the historic monument.
“It was probably more dangerous than the wing-walking,” Levy said of driving in England, referencing his offseason adventures.