The Detroit Lions appear to be headed down an all too familiar road this offseason. According to Anwar Richardson of MLive.com, Louis Delmas, the Lions' oft-injured safety, underwent surgery today on his left knee by Dr. James Andrews.
He had already missed most of training camp due to issues with the knee but there was no indication it was serious enough to require surgery.
The loss of Delmas is a substantial hit to the Lions' secondary—a unit already in flux. His leadership and experience was going to be invaluable with some new faces added this offseason.
This has become an unfortunate pattern for him. Fans may remember that he missed five games last season due to surgery on his right knee as welI. I wrote this article several weeks ago that highlighted his lengthy injury history and its affect on his performance.
I won't rehash that debate but this recent development only proves the point: The Lions cannot count on Louis Delmas.
Until he is able to demonstrate an ability to stay on the field, they should seriously start to develop another long-term plan at the safety position. Delmas has great potential, but he's shown zero ability to ever realize it because he simply can't stay on the field.
Who should start for Delmas?
His loss highlights the importance of several decisions that Lions GM Martin Mayhew made this offseason—i.e. the re-signing of Erik Coleman and bringing in veteran Sean Jones from Tampa Bay.
Were those moves made with Delmas in mind? They very well could have been because now they make Mayhew look like Nostradamus.
In the aforementioned MLive article, Richardson reports that if the season started today Coleman would replace Delmas as the starter. He's got a leg up on Jones even though it's very early.
Coleman is a 10-year veteran and should be a solid, if not spectacular, sub. Jones, a nine-year veteran, would also be an adequate replacement.
The bigger point is that the Lions had enough sense to add depth to the position so they'd have quality players available. If not, they'd probably be looking at special teams ace John Wendling, or second year player Ricardo Silva to replace Delmas.
Both are unproven, and I doubt anyone would feel comfortable giving either of them the starting job at this point. That doesn't mean they won't be in the mix though.
Wendling has already impressed with his improved play during camp. He's gotten more snaps with the first team and has made them count.
Silva hasn't been mentioned much this summer. He certainly turned a lot of heads during training camp last year though. If he was able to improve his technique to match his aggressiveness, he could be a serious consideration to start.
Ultimately, Delmas continues to frustrate the Lions and their fans. He was drafted by Detroit and they'd love to keep him in Detroit. However he's a free agent next summer and the Lions must ask themselves how much more they want to invest in him.
If he can't stay on the field, they'll find a serious lack of return on that investment.