DETROIT (WOOD) — The Detroit Lions offense knows what it’s like to play without left tackle Taylor Decker.
Last season, Decker suffered a finger injury before the first game of the season. He ended up missing eight games because of the injury.
After returning, Decker suffered a foot injury in week 18 against Green Bay. Although Decker is dealing with an injury in the same area of the foot, it’s not the same injury from week 18, according to Lions head coach Dan Campbell.
While Campbell claimed Decker could play right now if there were games, he is taking it easy during OTA’s to avoid any lingering problems for when training camp and the regular-season start to come more into view.
“If there was a game, 100% I would play,” Decker said last Thursday in Allen Park. “Basically, the opinion I got was it’s something that’s going to get better. It’s just kind of a pain in the ass that will take a little time. Just being smart about it right now. Like I said when it comes time to the bullets flying, and we’ve got to really play, it’s not even a thought.”
After all, this Lions group on the offensive front is not one Decker wants to miss playing with any longer.
With the return of veteran center Frank Ragnow from a season-ending injury in 2021, the 2021 seventh overall pick Penei Sewell having a full season under his belt, and fellow veterans Jonah Jackson and Halapoulivaati Vaitai returning upfront with Decker, this group has plenty of promise.
Enough for Decker to claim this O-line is the “most talented” group he’s ever been a part of.
“I’m not necessarily a talent evaluator, but we’ve got a bunch of guys who are smart, confident, athletic, I mean we can get out and run a bunch of guys on the perimeter or we can run downhill,” Decker said. “Then one-on-one pass blocking I’m 100% confident if you put five guys across from us, we’re going to be able to hold up… and that opens up a lot of things for skill position players.”
While it has been a busy off-season for Decker, who got married to his wife Kendra and announced a baby is on the way during the upcoming 2022 season, he has been itching to get back on the field with this group for those high praises he gives his teammates.
Decker’s fellow tackle Sewell has the potential to be the top reason this offensive line could make a huge leap forward.
It was overall a successful rookie campaign for Sewell in 2021, showing glimpses of his abilities and why he was worth a high draft pick. But he did admit he wants to find more consistency in 2022, and so far that’s been a lot easier with more experience and less flip-flopping between the right and left tackle positions.
“I’m more comfortable, I know what to expect,” Sewell said. “It’s more simple now that I can eliminate everything else because I know what’s going to happen during the season, OTAs and camp.”
Another big challenge for Sewell was how much weight he had dropped before the NFL combine to gain speed. How much he has put back on this offseason is unknown to most everyone.
“That’s between me and coach,” Sewell said laughing.
Regardless of how it turns out when the Lions open the season on Sept. 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles, this group has plenty of reasons to be talked highly about beforehand.
Campbell is excited he gets to be apart of coaching it.
“It’s a good group, I know that,” head coach Dan Campbell said Thursday. “They’re working together. Frank (Ragnow) and Jonah (Jackson), (Penei) Sewell and Big V (Halapoulivaati Vaitai), all of them, (Taylor) Decker.
“It’s a veteran group, it’s pretty tough, they’re smart, they work well together,” he said.