Former Vikings TE Suffers Serious Knee Injury

Injuries are an unfortunate part of the NFL world, and throughout the early portion of training camp, we’ve already seen the injury bug pop up across the league.

This week, a former Vikings TE suffered a serious knee injury. That player is Shane Zylstra, who has been practicing with the Detroit Lions this summer.

The injury was initially reported by Lions beat reporter Justin Rogers, who tweeted about the incident: “Shane Zylstra taken to the locker room with a right leg injury after getting hit low by cornerback Khalil Dorsey. Not an illegal hit, but definitely not the kind you want to deliver against a teammate in practice.”

Vikings TE
Dec 24, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Detroit Lions tight end Shane Zylstra (84) celebrates with quarterback Jared Goff (16) after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Then, on Tuesday afternoon, we found out that the Lions have officially waived Zylstra with an injury designation after it was discovered that he would miss six months with the injury. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the waiving.

Zylstra, a native of Spicer, Minnesota, played his collegiate ball at Minnesota State University in Mankato, and his 227 receptions, 4,297 receiving yards, and 54 touchdowns throughout his career with the Mavericks are all school records.

The tight end went undrafted in 2020, and the Vikings signed him in 2021 where he took part in training camp. After making one catch in the preseason, Minnesota waived him on the final cutdown day to trim the roster down to 53 players.

Jun 15, 2021; in Eagen, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Shane Zylstra (82) makes a catch during drills at OTA at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Zylstra caught on with the Lions later in the 2021 season, and he appeared in four games for the team. His NFL regular season debut actually came against the Vikings when he played 12 special teams snaps against his former team in Week 5. In all, the tight end caught three passes for 34 yards.

2022 was a breakout season for Zylstra in his second season with Detroit. He appeared in 13 games during the season, making two starts for the Lions. He caught 11 passes for 60 yards and 4 TDs throughout the regular season. This included a terrific game against the Carolina Panthers in Week 16 during which he caught three touchdown passes from Jared Goff.

Dec 24, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Detroit Lions tight end Shane Zylstra (84) catches a touchdown pass as Carolina Panthers linebacker Cory Littleton (55) defends in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 season offered high hopes for Zylstra, but he now must wait until 2024 to get back onto an NFL field. His departure from the team leaves the Lions with a tight end group that includes second-round pick Sam Laporta as well as Brock Wright, James Mitchell, and undrafted free agent Derrick Deese.

The Vikings have had their own injury troubles pop up this week, with both CB Andrew Booth and WR Trishton Jackson leaving Tuesday’s practice. Hopefully, these injuries aren’t as severe as Zylstra’s, and they will be able to get back on the practice field sooner rather than later.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.

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