Denver — From the sounds of it, the Detroit Lions have lost another linebacker for the season.
Lions rookie Jahlani Tavai exited Sunday's game against Denver in the second quarter with a shoulder injury and was unable to return. After the game, coach Matt Patricia offered a disappointing prognosis, breaking his tradition of withholding immediate injury updates.
"Jahlani is going to be out here for a while," Patricia said. "We're going to get it evaluated when we get back. That was really unfortunate for us. He's a tough kid. He came and made a good hit on the sideline and it just happened. Certainly, those are hard, when you lose your inside linebacker."
Tavai had already been asked to handle a bigger load down the stretch after Detroit placed starters Jarrad Davis and Christian Jones on injured reserve this month. Now down their top three linebackers, the team utilized Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Steve Longa extensively against the Broncos.
"They don't necessarily have the combined experience or play numbers those other guys have had out there," Patricia said. "There was a lot moving here on the fly with those guys, but I thought they handled it pretty well. It always affects communication and alignments, all that stuff. "
For Tavai, this is the second significant shoulder injury he's suffered in as many years. He was sidelined for the final three games of his senior season at Hawaii after requiring surgery.
In 15 games this season, including five starts, Tavai recorded 58 tackles, two sacks and an interception for the Lions.