Detroit Lions ‘tentatively’ plan to keep Taylor Decker at LT, move Penei Sewell to RT

Detroit Free Press

When Taylor Decker returns from injured reserve to practice this week, he likely will find himself at a familiar position.

Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell said Monday that his tentative plans are to keep Decker at left tackle and move rookie Penei Sewell back to right tackle once Decker is healthy enough to play.

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Decker underwent finger surgery Sept. 10 and has not played this season.

“We may put him at center and move Evan Brown to left tackle,” Campbell joked. “I think right now the thought would be to move Decker back into his slot at left tackle and move Penei back to right tackle. That’s tentatively what I think is the way that we’re talking about going. We’ll have a meeting this afternoon and really dive into all that stuff. We’re still cleaning up the game, but we will. That’s where I think we would lean certainly.”

Decker has been the Lions’ primary left tackle since 2016, and was expected to stay at that position when the Lions took Sewell, a left tackle for his two college seasons at Oregon, with the No. 7 pick in April’s draft.

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Sewell spent all of training camp at right tackle and only changed positions when Decker was hurt in practice four days before the Lions’ season-opening loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

After an up-and-down preseason on the right side, Sewell impressed enough in his first two games at left tackle that 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa suggested Sewell should stay at the position long-term.

“He’s going to be good,” Bosa told reporters after the Lions-49ers game. “He’s more comfortable on the left. I could tell. The tape I saw on the right was … I told him after the game, he’s better on the left and he’s more comfortable on the left. He’s going to be a solid player, for sure.”

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More recently, Sewell has struggled with veteran pass rushers Robert Quinn and Everson Griffen in losses to the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings.

He has allowed four sacks the past two weeks, with two of them leading to Jared Goff fumbles.

The Lions have not soured on Sewell’s long-term potential — which likely includes an eventual move to left tackle — but Campbell said they need the rookie, who was limited in practice with an ankle injury last week, to play better in the short-term.

“I think when he got in that (Vikings) game early he was getting out of his stance so fast that he was over-setting,” Campbell said. “I go back to, every one of these looks he gets he’s going to be better for. Now, he’s got to be able to adjust a lot faster than he did in that game. It took him a while and then he thought he had him and then he got beat.

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“So I do think we’ve got to do some things to help him, just a little bit to get him going again. I do think he’ll learn and be good for him. Look, I could tell last week I knew he wanted to play just cause he wanted redemption. That’s the way he’s built and I love that about him. He was mad, and I know he’ll be mad about this. And if you talk about giving him help, he’ll be pissed off about that, like, ‘I don’t need help.’ But I do think we need to just settle him back in. we’ll get him going here. But I love the way he’s built, and he will. He’ll be better for it.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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