Jeff Backus Ironman Streak in Jeopardy on Thanksgiving Day

By Chris Katje

Jeff Backus has started every single game at left tackle for the Detroit Lions since he was drafted by the team in 2001. Back in 2001, the University of Michigan offensive lineman was taken by the Lions to play the pivotal role of blocking the quarterback’s blind side.

Backus left Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers with a hamstring injury. The last time Backus left a game early was the Lions playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints last season. Backus suffered a torn bicep muscle in the Lions playoff game. Now the offensive lineman is questionable for Thursday’s Thanksgiving game, which would be his 187th consecutive.

Last year, Backus broke the Lions team record for most consecutive starts. With his 172nd straight game, Backus passed Dick Lebeau to hold the Lions consecutive starts record. In the NFL, Backus has the third longest active streak. Backus ranks first among active offensive linemen. Backus would have a long ways to go to surpass the record set by quarterback Brett Favre, who ended his career with 297 consecutive starts. The record by a left tackle (194) was within reach by Backus, but now seems like a long shot.

Backus was replaced by rookie Riley Reiff, who was taken by the Lions with their first round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Reiff had a holding penalty and saw the Packers loading up on the left side to take on the inexperienced lineman.

Backus was taken with the 18th pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. While at the University of Michigan, Backus started every game at left tackle from 1997 to 2000. He ended his college career with 49 consecutive starts, one shy of the school’s record.

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