Detroit Lions fans learning a lot about team with another tough loss
Free Press sports writers Dave Birkett and Jeff Seidel break down the Detroit Lions’ 19-17 loss to the Vikings on Oct. 10, 2021, in Minneapolis.
Dave Birkett and Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press
It appears as if the Detroit Lions will have to wait another week to get their starting left tackle back on the field.
Taylor Decker did not practice Friday after going through two light workouts earlier this week, casting doubt on his availability for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Decker, who underwent hand surgery Sept. 10 and has not played this season, stretched alongside teammates Friday but was not in uniform, and walked to a corner of the field for conditioning work with a trainer as the Lions began the walk-through portion of practice.
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First-year Lions coach Dan Campbell said before practice no decision had been made on when Decker will make his season debut, but left open the possibility it could be this week.
The Lions placed return man Corey Ballentine (hamstring) on injured reserve Friday and did not immediately fill his roster spot.
Decker took part in individual drills in practice Wednesday, and graduated to some team work Thursday.
“He’s been getting used to it,” Campbell said. “He went out there Wednesday, kind of had a bigger club (on his hand), if you will, and then we reduced it Thursday and got him some reps. It’s hard to say right now (if he will play this weekend). We’ll do some more today and then see where we’re at.”
Campbell said defensive tackle Kevin Strong needs another week or so before he’s ready to return from the brain injury that sent him to injured reserve in September.
Penei Sewell, who has started the past five games at left tackle in Decker’s absence, has worked at both left and right tackle this week in anticipation of Decker’s return, Campbell said. The No. 7 pick of April’s draft, he is expected to return to right tackle — the position he played all training camp — once Decker is healthy.
“He needs some reps there, but we’ve tried to do both,” Campbell said. “We’ve got walk-through reps where he’s taking some, and full-speed reps as well. So we’ve tried to kind of tinker with it, but yeah, prepare for both ways, if you will.”
Running back Jamaal Williams, who did not practice Thursday because of an illness, was back on the field Friday and is expected to play Sunday against the Bengals.
Either Godwin Igwebuike or Tom Kennedy will handle kick returns in Ballentine’s absence.
The Hangover II?
The first time the Lions lost on a last-second field goal this season, to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3, they committed two red zone turnovers and were held scoreless for the first 41 minutes of their next week’s game against the Chicago Bears.
Coming off another gut-wrenching, last-second loss to the Minnesota Vikings last week, Campbell said he has spoken with his team about avoiding a similar hangover.
“That is something we’re highly sensitive to because we didn’t play our best game (against the Bears),” Campbell said. “And so yeah, you can’t fall into that trap again, if you will. You can’t let that affect you. I mean, you’ve got to go back to work and it’s all been said but nobody cares, nobody feels sorry for you. All that matters is you win, and so man, you’ve got to go back to work.”
The Lions posted their second-highest yardage total of the season against the Bears, but were done in by execution errors and turnovers. Defensively, they struggled to stop Chicago’s rushing attack, especially early.
The Bengals (3-2) are coming off their own gut-wrenching loss, 25-22 to the Green Bay Packers, when rookie kicker Evan McPherson missed potential winning field goals in regulation and overtime.
“If we don’t put in the same amount of effort that we did last week for this one, and the focus and everything to give ourselves a chance, then we won’t have a chance against Cincinnati, and I do feel like they’ve done that this week,” Campbell said. “They’ve come back to work, but we’ve tried to — that’s been a focal point this week is we can’t go out there and do what we did against Chicago.”