Allen Park — The Detroit Lions will be without offensive tackle Taylor Decker for at least the first three games, according to an NFL Network report. The team is placing him on injured reserve ahead of Sunday’s season opener following a medical evaluation of his injured finger.
Coach Dan Campbell hinted at the possibility at the end of the week, noting the injury appeared to be trending toward requiring surgery.
“We’ll know for sure this afternoon, but I mean I think that it’s probably leaning that way,” Campbell said Friday morning.
Decker suffered his injury during Wednesday’s practice, punching his hand into a defender’s chest while in pass protection.
Since being drafted by the Lions in 2016, Decker largely has been durable. He’s started 55 of the team’s past 56 games after an offseason shoulder injury kept him out of action the first eight games of the 2017 campaign.
He was the only player on the roster to play every offensive or defensive snap in 2020.
With Decker out, the Lions are expected to shift first-round draft pick Penei Sewell to left tackle, while plugging in backup Matt Nelson on the right side. Campbell also suggested the team weighed going with Nelson at left tackle or moving guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai to one of the tackle spots and starting last year’s fourth-round pick Logan Stenberg at guard.
More importantly, the Lions now find themselves with just seven offensive linemen on the active roster. They’ll likely use the spot created by Decker being transferred to injured reserve to promote one of the three options — Tommy Kraemer, Darrin Paulo or Will Holden — from the team’s practice squad.
A new rule implemented last year also allows teams to temporarily elevate two players off the practice squad ahead of each game. That paves a path for the Lions to potentially add a second offensive lineman for the matchup against the 49ers.
Defensive tackle Bruce Hector and nickel cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman also could be elevation considerations, based on the other injuries the Lions have been dealing with during the practice week.