Lions expect return to health for Levy in 2016

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — DeAndre Levy played just 17 snaps in 2015, but the expectation is that he’ll be healthy for 2016.

After signing a four-year, $33.8 million extension in August, Levy was in position to take over as the star of the Lions defense with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh playing in Miami.

Instead, a hip injury sidelined Levy a couple of weeks after he signed the new contract, and although he managed to return for Week 5, he aggravated the injury and needed surgery that eventually ended his season.

As tough as it was for the Lions to play without Levy, coach Jim Caldwell said the outside linebacker should be ready to return next season.

“You can’t be absolutely sure,” Caldwell said Monday. “I don’t know if you guys have seen him out there, but he’s out there working.

“He looks great right now. We fully anticipate that. … I’m not a prognosticator, but everything that we know, absolutely (he’ll be 100 percent healthy).”

The Lions struggled mightily to replace Levy’s impact and production this season. Playing the weak side, Levy had 151 tackles and 21/2 sacks in 2014. In 2013, he had 119 tackles and six interceptions.

Stephen Tulloch led the Lions with 107 tackles this year, and fellow linebacker Josh Bynes, Levy’s primary replacement, had 82. No Lions linebacker had more than one sack or interception.