Allen Park — Lions rookie linebacker Kyle Van Noy will undergo further testing to determine the extent of what the team is calling an abdominal injury, but the second-round pick said he’s fearful that it could be a sports hernia.
“I’m not too sure what the case may be, but that is a concern,” Van Noy said Saturday. “Any injury is a concern to me. You always want to be healthy. That would be pretty concerning.”
Sports hernias typically require surgery and hold players out at least a month, so the Lions will hope that his upcoming medical evaluations yield good results.
Van Noy was a surprise scratch from Friday’s exhibition win over the Jacksonville Jaguars after participating in practice during the week. Though he’s unsure when the injury happened, he said he first sought medical attention Thursday.
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew pegged Van Noy as a starter on the strong side immediately after the draft, but it’s looking less and less likely that will be the case. Linebacker Ashlee Palmer, the starter in 2013, earned most of the first-team reps even when Van Noy was healthy, and Tahir Whitehead was outstanding in his surprise start Friday night with 10 tackles and three sacks.
“He played amazing, and I hope I can play even close to what he played like,” Van Noy said of Whitehead.
Although that comment might sound to some like he is resigned to his fate as a backup to start the season, Van Noy said he still plans to compete for that job.
“I never want to be resigning. That would be kind of like giving up,” he said. “I’m always going to compete to play. I mean, that’s my job. That’s what I’ll do when I get back.”
Still, Van Noy’s injury will only make it more likely Whitehead or Palmer starts, and coach Jim Caldwell said Friday and Saturday that Whitehead has been playing like one of the team’s top three linebackers for the past couple weeks.
“The guy has football instincts,” Caldwell said. “He sees he has a knack for rushing the passer. He has speed, power and bulk that’s pretty unique.”
The 40th overall pick this year, Van Noy has been snakebitten since jumping to the NFL. He missed time with a back injury during organized team activities and suffered a thumb injury at the start of training camp. As it turns out, Van Noy said his back injury “might be” related to his current abdominal issue.
“I’ve never been injured until I got here,” said Van Noy, who played the maximum 52 games at BYU. “That was the first game I’ve ever missed in my entire life, so it’s been pretty frustrating.”
Van Noy’s frustration is fueled by his inability to pinpoint the pain.
“I can’t say where exactly because it moves,” he said.
At this point, though, Caldwell said doctors have not indicated that Van Noy’s injury is long-term.
“He still has evaluation to go through, so they’ll make a determination on length of time and those kind of things here in the near future,” Caldwell said.
…In addition to Van Noy, running back Reggie Bush (unspecified), fullback Montell Owens (head) and safeties DeJon Gomes (neck) and Don Carey (hamstring) did not participate during the walkthrough Saturday, though they were on the field.
…Bush was wearing a sleeve on his left leg.
…Safety James Ihedigbo returned to practice after sitting out Friday’s game for rest.