Tyson Alualu was content if the opportunity never came.
Alualu spurned interest from a handful of NFL teams early this season to stay home with his family. His son, Tyreé, is in his senior year of high school, and Alualu wanted to see as much of Tyree’s final football season as possible.
When he signed to the Detroit Lions practice squad in early December, the Lions even let Alualu travel home to watch his son play in the Pennsylvania state championship game.
“To be honest, I feel like it worked out perfect for my situation, cause there were interest throughout the season but I really wasn’t entertaining until it was the right time and the right fit for my situation,” Alualu said. “Just the way God orchestrated it all, I couldn’t have wanted it planned out any better.”
Three weeks after signing with the Lions, Alualu could make his season debut Saturday as a practice squad elevation when the Lions visit the Dallas Cowboys in a game that has playoff seeding implications for both teams.
The Lions (11-4) want to get Alualu game action before the playoffs, to make sure he’s ready for the postseason. And the veteran defensive tackle adds fresh legs to an interior line that has struggled most of the season to generate splash plays.
Top defensive tackle Alim McNeill remains out for the Lions with a knee injury, and the Cowboys (10-5) have the second-highest scoring offense in the NFL and rank sixth in total and passing offense.
“I feel like it’s been a good three weeks,” Alualu said. “I feel like last week I was ready to go, physically, mentally, so if this is the opportunity to do it, I’m just grateful and excited to get this opportunity.”
A first-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2010, Alualu spent the past six seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers where he played a rotational role on the Steelers’ defensive line. He missed most of the 2021 season with an ankle injury and made 13 tackles in 17 games last year.
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Alualu likely will miss his son’s final high school game; Tyree was picked to play in the Polynesian Bowl high school all-star game Jan. 19 in Hawaii, when the Lions could be preparing for a playoff game.
But he said he’s “itching to get back and play some real football” and at 36 years old still has a lot to offer on the field.
“I didn’t want to just play somewhere just to say I played another year,” he said. “I wanted it to make sense for my situation, for this team situation where I can put my hand in the pile and help out with this push for them.”
Left tackle Taylor Decker missed practice Wednesday with a groin injury. Decker was listed as a limited participant on the Lions’ estimated practice report Tuesday. If he can’t play Saturday, Penei Sewell likely would move to left tackle and Dan Skipper would start at right tackle. Sewell started two games at left tackle when Decker was out with a high ankle sprain earlier this season.
Tight end Brock Wright (hip) also did not practice, while C.J. Gardner-Johnson (pectoral) and Jason Cabinda (knee) were limited. Gardner-Johnson and Cabinda remain on injured reserve and must return to the 53-man roster before the start of the playoffs if they are going to play again this year.
Players have a 21-day practice window in their return from IR before the must be activated to the 53-man roster. Lions did not start James Houston’s return-to-practice clock Wednesday, likely delaying that move until they have a full week of practice next week.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Tyson Alualu could make Detroit Lions debut vs. Dallas Cowboys
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