Allen Park — It remains unknown when Detroit Lions left tackle Taylor Decker suffered a finger injury that kept him off the practice field Thursday, but from the sounds of it, the team isn’t counting on him to play in Sunday’s season-opener against San Francisco.
“Yeah, obviously Taylor is one of those guys who has been a captain the last couple years and just a guy you feed off of, but, on the same hand, it’s next man up,” tight end T.J. Hockenson said after practice. “Matt Nelson is a good player. He’s been in it with us the last couple years, so I think he’s ready for the challenge.”
Nelson, a converted defensive lineman, is the only backup tackle on Detroit’s active roster. He appeared in all 16 games for the team last season, including four where he played significant offensive snaps as an injury replacement. He started the team’s Week 14 game against Green Bay.
To add some depth ahead of Sunday’s game, the Lions signed veteran Will Holden to the practice squad. A fifth-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2017, he’s spent time on seven different NFL rosters prior to signing with Detroit. For his career, he’s appeared in 13 games, including eight starts.
If Decker were to miss Sunday’s game, it would be just his second since the beginning of the 2018 season. He played 100% of the team’s offensive snaps last season after inking a four-year contract extension with the franchise that offseason.
His absence potentially paves the path for first-round draft pick Penei Sewell to temporarily shift to left tackle, the position he dominated at for the University of Oregon prior to declaring for the NFL draft.
“Football is one of those games where it’s next man up,” Hockenson said. “You can’t really think about stuff like that, you just have to move on. Obviously, Taylor is a great player and we’d definitely love to have him. When he comes back, whenever that is, we’re going to keep rolling.
“…Rookie, left tackle, but he’s a baller. Matt Nelson, he blocked (Chicago Bears Pro Bowl linebacker) Khalil Mack last year, so I think we’ll be all right up front. I’m not really worried about it.”