Taylor Decker could rejoin Detroit Lions’ 53-man roster even if he’s not ready to play

Detroit Free Press

Taylor Decker will not be ready to play when his clock to return from injured reserve expires next week, but Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell said the team has no regrets about starting Decker’s activation window when it did.

“It’s tough to say because all parties felt like it was the right time to do it,” Campbell said Friday. “We felt like, hey, he wanted to give it a go and certainly we would love to have him back, whenever he’s capable. And so it’s hard to look back and regret that move at the time knowing what we knew and where we were all at, all parties. But here it is.”

Decker hurt the index finger on his left hand four days before the Lions’ season-opening loss to the San Francisco 49ers and has not played this season.

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He returned to practice Oct. 13, re-aggravated the injury the next day and has not practiced since.

NFL teams have 21 days to activate players from injured reserve to their 53-man roster once they begin practicing.

Decker’s window expires next Wednesday, during the Lions’ bye week. If the Lions do not return him to their 53-man roster, they must shut Decker down for the rest of the season.

Campbell said the Lions have not decided what to do with Decker next week, but “all options are on the table,” including activating him to the 53-man roster and waiting to see if he can play later in the year.

“Everything’s out there right now,” Campbell said. “Certainly, if it’s not now, it would be after the bye, which is probably what it’s looking like. But if it’s not then and we have the spot available, we’re not pressed to make a decision one way or another, yeah, I mean, we’d be open to that.”

Defensive tackle Da’Shawn Hand, whose practice window started last week, is close to returning from the groin injury that sent him to injured reserve at the start of the season, Campbell said.

The Lions currently have one open spot on their 53-man roster.

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Coach Don

With special teams coordinator Dave Fipp in COVID-19 protocols and potentially unavailable for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Lions have added more coaching responsibilities to ex-long snapper Don Muhlbach’s plate.

Muhlbach joined the Lions as a special assistant in September, a month after the Lions cut him on his 40th birthday. His job duties entail helping with coaching, scouting and business-related projects.

Asked if Muhlbach has caught the coaching bug, Campbell said “he’s willing to catch whatever bug comes his way.”

“I don’t want to say he’s had toe in the water coaching,” Campbell said. “I think it’s certainly intrigues him, but I can tell you this, when you watch him interact with the players and coaches, he’s all passion, all energy. He’d be an outstanding coach, so I don’t know, but I know this: Whether he knows it or not, he just got sucked in. He’s been doing good.”

Fipp, who tested positive for COVID on Tuesday, must produce negative results on back-to-back days by Sunday in order to coach against the Eagles.

Assistant special teams coach Jett Modkins will oversee the Lions’ special teams in Fipp’s absence.

“It’s been good,” Campbell said. “It still stinks, especially this weekend I know for Fipp (who coached for the Eagles in 2013-20). I’m sure he would want this, but yet he’s still here in spirit and he’s up there. Like I say, he’s still coaching even from home.”

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

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