Foxborough, Mass. — Two plays into his first start as a member of the Detroit Lions, defensive back Saivion Smith had to be taken off the field at Gillette stadium by ambulance, strapped to a backboard. Fortunately, the player had movement in all his extremities after testing at a local hospital and the team hoped to have him fly home.
“He’s got full motor skills, so we’re going to try to get him back on the plane so he can come home,” coach Dan Campbell said. “That’s good news.”
On the play where he suffered the injury, Smith went down after getting tangled with Patriots tight end Hunter Henry near the line of scrimmage. It wasn’t immediately clear exactly how Smith was injured. Smith’s father and a second family member were able to come on to the field and ride in the ambulance with Smith.
Play was stopped for more than nine minutes while staff tended to Smith.
“When the cart came out and he wasn’t moving, I was scared,” teammate DeShon Elliott said. “…That’s one of my friends, so hopefully he gets better.”
Campbell didn’t speak to Smith directly after the game, but was able to relay an update to his teammates.
“Everybody was concerned about Saivion,” Campbell said. “Yeah, it was a sigh of relief.”
Elevated off the practice squad on Saturday, Smith was starting at safety in place of Elliott. Signed by the Lions late last season, Smith played only a handful of special-teams snaps in two appearances. He competed for a job at cornerback this preseason, but was ultimately part of the team’s final roster cuts, eventually landing on the practice squad.
Elliott replaced Smith in the lineup once play resumed.