Allen Park — Throughout training camp, Detroit Lions defensive tackle Michael Brockers has been held back. While the team hasn’t specified exactly what’s ailing the 10-year veteran, coach Dan Campbell has noted the workload is intentionally being increased at a “snail’s pace.”
After Monday’s practice, Brockers acknowledged he still isn’t physically ready to play to play in a game, but by the time the Lions open the season against the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 12, he expects to be a full-go.
“That’s what these weeks are for, these practices are for, is for me to get back in the groove, get my technique a lot better, and be ready for Game 1,” Brockers said.
The Lions acquired Brockers from the Los Angeles Rams for the low cost of a seventh-round draft pick. The addition was designed to serve two purposes. First, injecting some much-needed talent into Detroit’s defensive interior, and second, supplying Campbell with a veteran who could serve as a leader and help implement the coach’s cultural vision.
Reconfirming their commitment to Brockers, the Lions restructured his contract shortly after he arrived, adding an extra year along with some additional guaranteed money to the deal.
Even though Brockers has barely practiced the last month, and didn’t see any preseason action, he’s likely not far behind because of his familiarity with the team’s defensive scheme. It heavily incorporates elements used by Los Angeles, where he’s played the past several seasons.
“That helped a lot, understanding I was in this defense last year,” he said. “A lot of the same concepts, so I know what I have to do technique-wise. It’s just about going out there and feeling it out.”
Brockers, along with rookies Alim McNeil and Levi Onwuzurike, provide optimism at a position group that’s been largely ineffective for the Lions the past couple seasons.
“Those two guys are coming along,” Brockers said. “Alim, you know, he was a guy who right off the bat was working with the (first team defense), so that tells you a lot about his talent and where he is. And same thing for Levi. He’s coming along as well. He’s getting over some minor little things, but for the most part, a guy who is coming along really well, taking the coaching and rolling with it.”
Elder statesman Decker
Offensive tackle Taylor Decker celebrated his 28th birthday last week, but he feels considerably older. That’s because entering his sixth season, he finds himself as the franchise’s longest-tenured player.
“Yeah, I feel it in my knees,” Decker quipped when asked if he was aware of the fact. “Strange. We’ve got a young team. We have a really young team. When I first got here, obviously, there were guys in their 30s and now we probably only have got a couple. I joke that I feel like I’m 32, but I’m not.
“It’s much like the (overall changes this offseason), it’s the name of the game,” Decker continued. “You’ve got to fight to maintain that level of performance, and fight to stay on teams. For whatever reasons, they move on from guys or they trade guys or whatever it may be. But I’m happy that I’m a guy that’s still here. I want to be here, and I want to see this team be a winner.”
Decker should be around for at least a few more years. The former first-round pick agreed to a lucrative four-year contract extension last offseason.