Shane Zylstra Showcases Talents at Lions Mini Camp After Season-Ending Injury in ’23

Reclaims His #84 MSU Jersey Number

By JADELYN JACKSON, CSU Communications Intern

Minnesota State Mankato receiving record holder, Shane Zylstra, ’20, is looking to capture a Detroit Lions tight end roster spot with a solid mini camp after a season-ending knee injury during 2023 Lions training camp.

According to ESPN, the Maverick wide receiver turned NFL tight end is ranked fourth on the Lions TE depth chart as Zylstra competes for a place on the Lions 2024 roster.

Showing good hands this pre-season, Zylstra, 27, is getting noticed after returning from a ‘serious’ 2023 training camp injury to his right knee from a low hit by teammate Khalil Dorsey. It was the same leg that suffered a broken kneecap late in the 2021 season.

Lions head coach, Dan Campbell spoke at a press conference last year following the injury. He described the tackle as a hit that “shouldn’t happen” in training camp.

Campbell said, via the Detroit News, “My gosh. He had the injury two years ago that man. That was a tough one. That was a tough injury 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, and he just does everything right, man. He works, he’s a grinder, and then this one happens.”

Campbell and Zylstra appear to have been trauma-bonded as they both suffered similar pre-season knee injuries in their respected career. Campbell missed the 2009 season with the New Orleans Saints that cost him a Super Bowl LXIV ring.

Despite this setback, Zylstra’s career stats of 14 catches for 94 yards and four touchdowns has demonstrated his potential and capability on the field.

In 2022, Zylstra had appeared in 13 games for the Lions and most notably had a three-touchdown performance on Dec. 24 against the Carolina Panthers. CBS Sports reported that he made 11 receptions (on 15 targets) for 60 yards and four touchdowns across 13 contests.

As a Maverick, he finished his Maverick collegiate career with school records for catches (227), receiving yards (4,297), and receiving touchdowns (54). Potentially more impressive, Zylstra broke the single-season record for catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns previously held by another Maverick and NFL standout, Adam Thielen.

Zylstra wore number 84 as a Maverick, then after suffering his injury, Daurice Fountain claimed it, LionWire reports. Now, heading into the 2024 season, Zylstra is back to his old roots repping number 84 on his chest.

Detroit Sports Nation reports how Zylstra has a second chance to prove his talents to the entire league. Zylstra‘s re-signing is a testament to the Lions’ belief in his abilities and potential contribution to the team’s success. As Zylstra works to make the 53-man roster and return to the field, both the team and its supporters are eager to see how his keen catching abilities advance his career and help the Detroit Lions make another Super Bowl run.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *