Lions’ Dan Campbell doesn’t rule out shutting down Taylor Decker

Detroit News

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions have two weeks to decide whether offensive tackle Taylor Decker will be able to play this season, and heading into Wednesday’s practice, coach Dan Campbell acknowledged he’s not sure which way it’s going to go. 

Decker suffered a finger injury in the week of practice leading into the season opener and had it surgically repaired days later. He went on injured reserve for the next five weeks, prior to returning to practice last Wednesday. From there, the Lions have 21 days to determine whether he’ll be reactivated or shut down for the year. 

“We’ve really only got another two-week window here on him since we started his clock,” Campbell said. “We’re going to have to figure something out in the next couple weeks on him one way or another, whether he’s on the roster, activated and ready to go. If not, we have to put him down for the rest of the season.

“I don’t know where this is going to go, short term. I don’t. I really don’t right now. We’ll just have to see how it feels.”

Decker didn’t make it through his first week of practice before suffering a setback that had him sitting out Friday’s session. Using the flexible microphone during his press conference to demonstrate the instability the offensive tackle was already dealing with, Campbell noted Decker took a shot that caused his finger to swell. 

“He kind of hit somebody, it’s not like you just nick it, so when you hit it, the whole thing bends backwards and now the knuckle is pissed off,” Campbell said. “So let’s do this a little different and maybe we crop it down. A little bit of it is just getting comfortable with what that’s going to feel like.”

Beyond the setback, Campbell said Decker has to determine if can mentally get past his lingering physical limitations. 

“When you play left tackle, there’s a big part of this, mentally, he needs to feel like he can use it the way he needs to use it and he’s comfortable with it,” Campbell said. “At the end of the day, man, if you don’t feel like you can function with it the way that you need to or you feel like you’re going to be a liability to us offensively, that does us no good, either.

“I think, if anything, it really gets to the point where, man, can you get comfortable with being a one-armed man, because that’s really what it becomes. You can use it to punch, but to use it to grab is going to be hard. That’s what we’ve got to figure out and he’s got to figure out.”

Prior to suffering the finger injury, Decker started 55 of the past 56 games at left tackle for the Lions, missing Week 2 of the 2019 season with a back injury. He also missed the first eight games in 2017 after suffering a shoulder injury during an offseason practice. 

A first-round pick in 2016, Decker is in the first year of a four-year, $60 million contract extension he signed last offseason.

With Decker out, rookie Penei Sewell will continue to start in his stead with Matt Nelson taking over at right tackle.

Allison gets promotion

The Lions filled a roster opening created when cornerback and return man Corey Ballentine was placed on injured reserve late last week, signing wide receiver Geronimo Allison off the practice squad. 

Allison initially signed with the Lions ahead of the 2020 season but opted out due to COVID-19 concerns. He previously spent four seasons with the Green Bay Packers, appearing in 46 games and catching 89 passes for 1,045 yards and six touchdowns.

The Lions had temporarily elevated Allison off the practice squad for last Sunday’s game against Cincinnati. He played 13 offensive snaps and 15 special teams snaps in the contest and was not targeted in the passing game. 

Former Lions kickers honored

Former Lions kickers Matt Prater and Matthew Wright were named the NFC and AFC special teams players of the week, respectively. 

Prater made all three of his field-goal attempts, including a 51-yarder, contributing 13 total points to the Arizona Cardinals’ 37-14 victory over the Cleveland Browns to move to 6-0 on the season. 

Wright, who was with the Lions during training camp this year, hit two field goals of 50-plus yards in the closing minutes, including a 53-yarder as time expired, to help net the Jacksonville Jaguars their first win of the season, 23-20, over the Miami Dolphins in London.

Injury report

The Lions were down a few key contributors during Wednesday’s practice, including Decker. The team was also missing tight end T.J. Hockenson, fullback Jason Cabinda and starting defensive lineman Nick Williams. 

Hockenson has been working through a knee injury the past couple weeks, while Williams suffered an ankle injury against the Bengals.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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