Then after being released by the Patriots, Thornton was signed by the Lions in 2015. Second-year player A'Shawn Robinson and 33-year-old veteran Haloti Ngata appear likely to be the Lions starters along the defensive front, with Thornton, Akeem Spence and free agent Jordan Hill being counted on as the primary reserves.
NFL suspended Lions DT Khyri Thornton six games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
Thornton is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games. He played in 13 games last season, including six starts, and had 18 total tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
He will be eligible to return to the Lions' active roster following the team's October 15 game versus the Saints. But on Tuesday, the Lions' found out they'll be without one of their defensive tackles for almost half the season.
Thornton's suspension hurts the Lions from a depth standpoint, but his loss shouldn't be hard to overcome given the composition of their roster. The Lions also selected former Arkansas defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter in the sixth round, and he might have a better chance now of making the initial 53-man roster.