Speculation continues to grow that Detroit Lions first-round rookie offensive tackle Penei Sewell should stay at left tackle after replacing the injured Taylor Decker and holding his own in the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers. But the coaching staff isn’t budging from their long-term plans to keep him at right tackle once Decker is back. Additionally, offensive line coach Hank Fraley says they haven’t even broached the topic of moving Decker to right tackle.
“I’ll just be honest, there’s been no discussion on that stuff,” Fraley said on Thursday. “When we cross that bridge (we’ll talk). Right now Taylor, in my mind, is our left tackle and Penei is our right tackle. And when Taylor is not playing, Penei is left tackle and Matt Nelson is the right tackle.”
Sewell’s performance in Week 1 earned him high praise from several sources. He was a top-10 graded left tackle from PFF, former NFL offensive linemen believed he looked a lot more comfortable on the left side, as did the All-Pro defensive end he went up against on Sunday, Nick Bosa.
“He’s going to be good,” Bosa in his post-game press conference. “He’s more comfortable on the left, and I could tell from the tape I saw of him on the right. I told him after the game he’s better on the left.”
Fraley liked what he did in the opener, too.
“I just love the fact that he went out there and competed and it didn’t matter if he did have a bad set or whatever, because it wasn’t perfect,” Fraley said. “He just went to the next play. It didn’t affect him.”
And while Fraley expressed confidence in playing Sewell at just about any position (“If you ask him to go play center, he probably would play center), he rebuffed at any suggestion that Decker is fit for the right side.
“I’ve never seen Taylor play right tackle,” Fraley replied. “I just know this, 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.”
Fraley did leave the opportunity to change his mind later, noting that they’ll cross that bridge when they have to, and head coach Dan Campbell did the same earlier in the week.
“I’d love to entertain that, but we’re so far away from that right now. We’re just, how do we put the best lineup out there for Green Bay right now? We’ll worry about that when Decker comes back, but right now, I know that we feel good with Sewell being at left.”
At this point it appears to be a waiting game. Decker had finger surgery last week that is expected to keep him out about a month. So come Week 6 or 7 or 8, we’ll see if the coaching staff has changed their mind.