Detroit Lions’ Colby Sorsdal settling in at guard: ‘I like having something new to work on’

Detroit Free Press

A right tackle his entire college career, Colby Sorsdal has found a new home with the Detroit Lions at right guard.

“I love how fast it is,” Sorsdal said at rookie minicamp this month. “Everything happens so much faster when you’re at guard; things get on you really quick, and that’s one thing that I need to adjust to. But I like having something new to work on, I like challenging myself and I feel like I’m doing that out here.”

A fifth-round pick out of William & Mary, Sorsdal started 46 games at right tackle in his five seasons with the Tribe. He earned FCS All-American honors as a senior, when he captained one of college football’s best rushing attacks.

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But NFL scouts projected Sorsdal as an interior lineman because of his 33-inch arms, and the Lions played Sorsdal at right guard — the position William & Mary offensive line coach Mario Acitelli told the Free Press after the draft was “probably the best spot for” Sorsdal — during rookie minicamp.

“I think he could play either” tackle or guard, Acitelli said. “I certainly think he’s a physical enough kid to play guard. And then the other aspect of guard that I think goes unsaid a lot of times in the media is just how quickly things change inside, how you have to react so quickly. This guy goes over there, so now I’m working to this guy instead of that guy, or whatever. I think mentally he would be able to handle that very well, without a doubt.”

Because his only previous experience at guard came in practice at William & Mary and the Shrine Bowl college all-star game, Sorsdal said he spent extra time during rookie minicamp in the film room trying to learn both the Lions’ playbook and the nuances of his new position.

For now, Sorsdal projects as a backup on the Lions’ veteran offensive line, with Halapoulivaati Vaitai expected to rejoin the starting group after missing all of last season with a back injury.

The Lions return four-fifths of last year’s line with Taylor Decker (left tackle), Jonah Jackson (left guard), Frank Ragnow (center) and Penei Sewell (right tackle) locked into starting positions. They also signed former Michigan standout Graham Glasgow as interior line insurance this offseason, but Acitelli said Sorsdal will “try and be the best at” whatever job they give him.

“To come in here and like I said, I love to learn and I love to get better at what I do and to have this kind of group, to be surrounded with this much talent, it’s special,” Sorsdal said. “You can kind of feel it in the room saying, ‘Hey, you go to earn your keep here,’ but this is a special room.”

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

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