Former Maverick Shane Zylstra Suffers Season-Ending Knee Injury at Detroit Lions Training Camp

The Detroit Lions waived with injury designation Shane Zylstra, Maverick football record-holder and NFL up-and-coming tight end, following an Aug. 1 serious right knee injury during training camp.

As a wide receiver, Zylstra, holds the Mavericks’ career and single-season records for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Players listed as waived/injured during the pre-season are removed from the team while it reduces its roster to the required 53 players. If the player clears waivers (unclaimed by another team), he reverts to the team’s injured reserve list.

Zylstra, 26, was injured at Lions training camp after a low, but legal, hit from teammate defensive back Khalil Dorsey during a red zone drill. Early prognosis suspected the injury was season-ending for Zylstra with an expected six-month recovery.

The right knee injury is the second in two years after Zylstra suffered a broken right kneecap in late 2021.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Lions coach Dan Campbell said the injury was “preventable” and that Lions players must do a better job taking care of each other, even in physical practices.

“First of all, I feel awful for Zylstra,” Campbell said to media the following morning. “My gosh, man. He had the injury two years ago, that was a tough one… man that was a TOUGH injury that he fought his way back from, and then you saw what he was able to do for us. He was a pivotal part of our success last year, once we started turning the corner. Um, and you know, he just does everything right. He works, he’s a grinder, and then this one happens. So, you know… my hearts with him. And honestly, it shouldn’t have happened.”

Following a similar path as fellow Maverick-turned-pro Adam Thielen, Zylstra was an undrafted free agent who signed as a tight end with the Vikings in 2021. He was cut by the Vikings and later signed with the Lions. He missed the last two games of the season after breaking his right kneecap in Week 16. against the Atlanta Falcons.

In 2022, Zylstra was activated from the practice squad and caught his first NFL touchdown against the Green Bay Packers. He was later added to the roster after the Lions traded starting tight end T.J. Hockenson to the Minnesota Vikings. In Week 16, Zylstra had a break-out game with three receiving touchdowns against the Carolina Panthers.

Going into the 2023 season, Zylstra was the oldest and more experienced tight end on the Lions’ roster. Early predictions had him third on the tight-end depth chart.

In 2019, Zylstra finished his Maverick career by setting the single-season record for receptions (81), receiving yards (1,676), and receiving touchdowns (18). Zylstra also holds the Mavericks’ career records for receptions (227), receiving yards (4,297), and receiving touchdowns (54).

Zylstra’s older brother, Brandon, also played for the Lions during the 2022 season.

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