Detroit Lions’ Taylor Decker takes first-team reps; why next 24 hours are key

Detroit Free Press

Taylor Decker took left tackle reps at practice Wednesday for the first time in nearly a month, and the Detroit Lions should know soon whether the veteran offensive lineman will play again this season.

Lions coach Dan Campbell indicated Wednesday the next 24 hours will be key to Decker’s return from the finger injury that has sidelined him since early September.

Decker was a full participant in practice and worked alongside the rest of the Lions’ first-team offensive line during the open portion of the workout, with rookie Penei Sewell at right tackle. If Decker cannot play Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Lions will need to give Sewell reps at left tackle and Matt Nelson reps on the right side.

Sewell practiced primarily at left tackle when Decker briefly returned to practice for two days last month.

“Look, he’s going to go today and he’s got to prove to us that he can’t,” Campbell said. “As far as we’re concerned, we’re going to go out, man, he’s going to go out there and practice and if he feels good then we’ll see what tomorrow looks like and we’ll just go from there.

LIONS MAILBAG: Should they draft a QB next spring or ‘Blow for Bryce’ in 2023?

MIDSEASON GRADES: Lots of D’s but one A among the 0-8 mess

“But I think we also, I know he’s ready to go and I know he wants to get out there and he wants to test it and he wants to use it, but until we test it we’re not going to know. And it’s time to test it. And he’ll know. I think he’ll be able to tell pretty quickly how it feels.”

Decker injured his left index finger four days before the Lions’ season-opening loss to the San Francisco 49ers and reaggravated in on his second day back at practice Oct. 14.

On Wednesday, he practiced with what appeared to be a normal tape job on his left hand.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was complimentary of both Decker and Sewell on a conference call with Detroit reporters Wednesday.

“They need no endorsement from me,” Tomlin said. “They’re top quality players. The rookie was drafted where he was drafted for a reason. His pedigree is ridiculous, his talent is ridiculous, and Decker, man, has been at it for a while, man. He’s a former first-rounder and I think captain of that outfit and so it speaks for itself.”

Running back Jamaal Williams, who did not play in the Lions’ Week 8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles because of a thigh injury, worked on the side with trainers during the open portion of practice Wednesday.

The Lions returned cornerbacks Ifeatu Melifonwu (quad) and Corey Ballentine (hamstring) to practice from injured reserve. They have 21 days to activate both players to the 53-man roster or shut them down for the rest of the season.

The Lions also re-signed receiver Tom Kennedy to the practice squad.

Fine wine

The Lions are 0-8 and the only winless team in the NFL, but Tomlin said his Steelers (5-3)  have no business overlooking the Lions this week.

“Their record is irrelevant to me,” Tomlin said. “We’re in the National Football League. This isn’t college football. We’re not playing an FCS team this week. We’re not playing a group of five team this week. This is not homecoming. We better step in the stadium and respect them as the peers that they are.”

The Steelers, in second place in the AFC North, have the second-longest winning streak in the NFL at four games.

They’ve played one of the league’s toughest schedules, with seven of their eight games so far coming against playoff contenders, and have games against the Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals on tap the next three weeks.

Coming off a short week – the Steelers beat the Chicago Bears on a late field goal Monday night – this could be a trap game for Pittsburgh.

“They’re professionals, they’re compensated that way, players and coaches,” Tomlin said of the Lions. “We realize there’s a fine line between drinking wine and squashing grapes in this league.”

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

Articles You May Like

Detroit Lions hope new acquisitions and veteran leadership can help rebuild secondary
VIDEO: Calvin Johnson makes an appearance at Detroit Lions OTAs
Mailbag: Do the Detroit Lions have any top-10 defenders at their position?
Notes: Highlights from first 2 days of Detroit Lions OTAs
Back from frightening neck injury, Saivion Smith epitomizes Detroit Lions ‘Grit’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *