Detroit Lions linebacker/defensive end Brandon Copeland tore a pectoral muscle in Sunday’s preseason win over the Indianapolis Colts, will need surgery and is likely out for the season, according to a source.
Copeland was injured in the second half of the game, went to the locker room and did not return. Copeland had been a key special teams player for Detroit as well as a player who could play both linebacker and defensive end.
The injury was first reported by NFL Network.
He had been lining up with the No. 1 defense as a SAM linebacker at points during training camp and had been in a competition with Antwione Williams. At defensive end, Copeland was a depth pass-rusher whose importance was growing with Kerry Hyder‘s Achilles’ injury, also suffered against the Colts.
Now, the Lions are likely to be without both of them for a long time.
The 26-year-old Copeland joined the Lions in 2015, one of the few players to be signed following the NFL’s first veteran combine. He played in every game for the Lions over the past two seasons, making 19 tackles with a half-sack and forced fumble.
With Copeland out, rookie Jalen Reeves-Maybin could have a larger special teams role and this could open up a roster spot for another primary special teams player.
Detroit now has four defensive ends — or players who can play the position — dealing with injuries: Ezekiel Ansah remains on physically unable to perform list; Cornelius Washington has been injured throughout camp; Hyder has a “significant” injury, according to Lions coach Jim Caldwell and Copeland. Armonty Bryant, another defensive end, is suspended for the first four games of the regular season.