Lions safety Tavon Wilson out for season with shoulder injury

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Tavon Wilson

Allen Park – The Detroit Lions have lost another defensive starter for the season with safety Tavon Wilson heading to injured reserve.

Wilson’s season-long battle with a shoulder injury came to an end when he aggravated it a third time during the team’s Thanksgiving loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

“It’s just like anything else, regardless of who it is, there are guys that you lose that you don’t want to lose,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “But you always have got to have somebody to step up, step in and get it done. Obviously, he’s been a vital part of what we do. He’s done a great job for us.”

To fill the team’s two open roster spots, the other from defensive end Jeremiah Valoaga’s release over the weekend, the Lions signed two players off their practice squad – safety Rolan Milligan and wide receiver Bradley Marquez.

Wilson initially injured the shoulder in the early stages of training camp, when fighting for a deep pass with tight end Darren Fells. The veteran safety re-aggravated the issue in Week 2, against the Giants, missing one game before returning to practice in a no-contact red jersey.

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The Lions removed the red jersey last week, but the shoulder was hurt once again when Wilson broke up a deep throw intended for Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs. Wilson had returned to game prior to the snap after having been removed for a concussion evaluation.

In his second season with the Lions, Wilson recorded 55 tackles, 2.0 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble in 10 games. He tallied 89 tackles, a sack and two interceptions last season.

A former second-round pick for the New England Patriots, Wilson is in the final season of a two-year contract he signed with the Lions in 2016. He’s scheduled to be a free agent again after this season.

His absence from the lineup will likely lead to a bigger role for Miles Killebrew, who had seen his playing time shrink over the past month, before taking 32 snaps against the Vikings.

“He’s coming along,” Caldwell said about Killebrew. “He’s making steps forward and he’s coming.”

A fourth-round pick last year, Killebrew has 32 tackles and five pass defenses and an interception this season.

Wilson is the third defensive starter the Lions have lost to a season-ending injury, joining defensive end Kerry Hyder and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.


Joe Dahl is returning to practice. The Lions are using their second and final designation to return to get the second-year offensive lineman off injured reserve.

Dahl went on injured reserve after he was scratched from the team’s Week 3 game with a lower leg injury. He played just seven special teams snaps the first two weeks of the year.


The Lions filled two practice squad openings by re-signing wide receiver Jace Billingsley and adding safety Stefan McClure.

McClure appeared in seven games for Washington this season. Undrafted out of California in 2016, he spent his rookie season on Indianapolis practice squad.