Detroit Lions' Alex Anzalone, 'our QB on defense,' to season-ending shoulder injury

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  • Detroit Lions
    Detroit Lions
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Alex Anzalone
    Alex Anzalone
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Dan Campbell
    American football player and coach

The Detroit Lions will finish the season without one of their defensive captains.

Lions coach Dan Campbell said Monday linebacker Alex Anzalone will miss the rest of the season after injuring his right shoulder in Sunday's 30-12 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

"That’s a tough deal," Campbell said. "I don’t think we feel like it’s a major injury, but yet it’s going to knock him out for the year."

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Detroit Lions inside linebacker Alex Anzalone celebrates a missed field goal by the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium, Nov. 21, 2021.
Detroit Lions inside linebacker Alex Anzalone celebrates a missed field goal by the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium, Nov. 21, 2021.

Anzalone has a long history of shoulder problems.

He dislocated his right shoulder three times in a five-season span in college and early in his NFL career, and spent the final 12 games of the 2017 season on injured reserve after undergoing shoulder surgery.

In 2019, Anzalone played just two games before undergoing a second shoulder surgery.

This year, Anzalone had been one of the Lions' most durable players before leaving last week's loss to the Denver Broncos with a sprained ankle.

He leads the Lions with 78 tackles and had played all but four defensive snaps this season before spraining his ankle early in last week's loss to the Denver Broncos.

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Anzalone returned to practice on a limited basis last week, but was injured on his fifth defensive snap against the Cardinals.

Detroit Lions inside linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (44) breakers up a pass to Arizona Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz (86) during second half action on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, at Ford Field in Detroit.
Detroit Lions inside linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (44) breakers up a pass to Arizona Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz (86) during second half action on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, at Ford Field in Detroit.

"He’s been rock solid, man," Campbell said. "He’s been as steady as a rock. He’s really our quarterback on defense. ... It’ll hurt, but look, we’ve had to adapt all year and so here we are again."

Jalen Reeves-Maybin wore the green-dot helmet to relay defensive play calls in Anzalone's absence Sunday and stands to play an increased role on defense going forward.

The Lions also lost linebacker and special teams ace Josh Woods to a shoulder injury Sunday.

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"Our plan was with (Reeves-Maybin) and Alex, knowing they were kind of coming back off injuries is, man, just give them stuff to get them in the flow, but we didn’t want it to be overbearing," Campbell said. "And Reeves has to play 72 plays, man. And he’s the green dot. And he played all out. It wasn’t perfect, but I’ll tell you what, the guy made a ton of plays for us and so that’s a credit to him."

Votes are in

Three Lions finished in the top 10 of fan voting for the Pro Bowl by position.

T.J. Hockenson, who is out for the season after undergoing thumb surgery, finished eight among tight ends. Jason Cabinda, who scored his first career touchdown Sunday, ranked fifth among fullbacks. And first-year long snapper Scott Daly finished sixth.

Pro Bowl rosters will be revealed Wednesday. Teams are selected by a consensus vote of fans, players and coaches, with each group's vote counting one-third in the process.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions' Alex Anzalone out for season with shoulder injury