The Detroit Lions defense turned things around in the second half of the 2022 NFL season, helping the team finish the year just outside the playoff picture. Now viewed as one of the breakout NFL teams in 2023, Detroit is mysteriously benching one of its starters from last season.
Once the preseason ends, NFL teams finalize their rosters and typically have their depth charts ready with projected starters for Week 1. As of last week, defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs was expected to start on the Lions’ defensive line alongside defensive tackle Alim McNeill.
Buggs’ projected role on the team would come just a few months after he signed a two-year, $6 million contract extension to remain in Detroit. However, the former sixth-round pick has now been told he won’t even be on the active roster when they face the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL Kickoff Game.
- Isaiah Buggs contract: $1.1 million salary in 2023, $2.05 million salary in 2024
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Isaiah Buggs revealed that the Lions informed him he’ll be a healthy scratch in the season opener. While he made Detroit’s 53-man roster, no reason was given by the coaching staff for why he won’t be allowed to play in Week 1.
“As of right now, they told me I was not gonna play, so, that’s what we’ve got. I’m gonna be be straightforward with it because they were straightforward with me.”Detroit Lions defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs on being a healthy scratch in Week 1 (H/T Colton Pouncy)
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Colton Pouncy of The Athletic made it clear this isn’t injury-related. Detroit listed Buggs as a full participant on Monday’s injury report, not disclosing any injury or personal matter that could explain Buggs’ benching.
Buggs certainly wasn’t one of the best defensive tackles in football last season. He earned a 53.9 grade from Pro Football Focus, largely struggling as a run blocker. However, he was credited with 20 pressures in 390 pass-block snaps. He also posted a 9.3 percent pass-rush win rate, better than Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.
The 27-year-old defensive lineman is well-liked by teammates and viewed as a positive presence in the locker room. Yet, just days before the Lions take the field in a critical game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Buggs has suddenly gone from a starter to a healthy scratch.