Detroit Lions OL coach Hank Fraley: No plans to move Taylor Decker to RT for now

Detroit Free Press

If the Detroit Lions are planning to move Taylor Decker to right tackle when he returns from finger surgery next month, no one has brought Lions offensive line coach Hank Fraley in on those plans.

Fraley said Thursday he still considers Decker the Lions’ left tackle and there has been no talk about keeping rookie Penei Sewell at the position full-time.

“I’ll just be honest, there’s been no discussion on that stuff and when we cross that bridge,” Fraley said. “But right now, Taylor in my mind’s our left tackle and Penei’s our right tackle and when Taylor’s not playing, Penei’s the left tackle and Matt Nelson’s the right tackle. So that’s how we’re doing things and he’s done a nice job.”

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Sewell, the No. 7 pick of April’s draft, became the youngest player in NFL history to start a game at left tackle in last week’s 41-33 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

He allowed one sack, to top 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, but helped key the Lions’ 116-yard rushing performance with several key blocks and looked more comfortable at the position than he did playing right tackle all preseason.

Lions coach Dan Campbell did not rule out the possibility of keeping Sewell at left tackle, the position he played for both his college seasons at Oregon, when asked about the possibility earlier this week.

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Fraley said he has not had any dialogue with Decker about a position change.

“Only dialogue we’ve had right now is about Green Bay and Taylor’s been a big help to Penei,” he said. “Ever since he’s got here he’s always been in his ear about little things, how to do things. He’s a good asset for Penei out there, cause he’s already seen these guys and knows what’s about to take place. All that discussions have been about Green Bay and other than that, that’s all we can take care of.”

Decker has played left tackle for the Lions since they took him in the first round out of Ohio State in 2016.

He has made it clear he prefers to stay at left tackle, and said earlier this summer no one approached him about a move around this year’s draft.

Sewell called Decker “a role model” last week and said he planned on returning to right tackle once Decker returns. But that was before his performance against the 49ers — a performance that prompted Bosa to say the rookie seemed more at ease playing on the left side of the line.

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“I know outside of the building, there’s always a lot of speculation and talk about everything, and that’s where it stays is outside the building,” Fraley said. “In here, he’ll just line up wherever you want. If you asked him to go play center, he would probably play center. He’s done a nice job with it and he’s taken to the challenge. This week’s a new challenge for him again.”

Asked if he thought Decker would be just as willing to play wherever he’s asked, Fraley first said the topic has not come up, then said that applies to everyone on his line.

“I just know this,” Fraley said. “If you ask any of our guys to do whatever, they will go out and compete wherever they go, but that’s not even been brought up and right now like I said, it’s all about the five that are playing and getting the guys ready that are behind them to have to step in, cause it’s always a next-guy mentality and it’s always been that way, especially O-line. You never know. It just takes one play and next thing you know you’ve got another starter in there playing.”

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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