Taylor Decker misses Friday’s practice, ‘hard to say’ if he plays vs. Bengals

Pride of Detroit

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell indicated on Friday morning that left tackle Taylor Decker remains in play to make his 2021 debut against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

“It’s hard to say right now,” Campbell said. “We’ll do some more today and then see where we’re at.”

UPDATE: Decker did not participate during Friday’s practice, so it appears he’s unlikely to play.

Decker suffered a finger injury in practice in the lead up to Week 1, and it was serious enough to require surgery. He’s since been on injured reserve, with first-round rookie Penei Sewell taking his spot at left tackle and Matt Nelson filling in at right tackle. Decker returned to practice this week, but he remains on injured reserve. He’s eligible to come off at any time, and the Lions potentially paved a way for his return by placing kick returner Corey Ballentine on injured reserve Friday morning, freeing up a roster spot.

Campbell noted that on Wednesday, Decker had a “bigger club” on his hand when he only participated in walkthrough reps. But they reduced the restrictions on his hand on Thursday and gave him some full-speed reps.

For the first two practices of the week, Sewell had only been repping at left tackle during the portion of practice open to the media (first 15 minutes), but Campbell noted that they’ve been preparing him at both spots in case the Lions are with or without Decker this week.

“He needs some reps (at right tackle), but we’ve tried to do both,” Campbell said. “We’ve got walkthrough reps where he’s taken some right (tackle reps), full-speed reps as well. So, we’ve tried to tinker with it, but yet prepare for both ways, if you will.”

It appears that open roster spot will not be going to defensive tackle Kevin Strong, who also returned to practice this week but remains on IR. Campbell says his return from a thigh injury appears to still be at least a week away.

“I think he’s a little further away. We got him back and he is practicing, but I think he’s probably a week out.”

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