Injuries keep hammering the Lions offensive line continuity

USA Today

For the first time in several weeks, the Detroit Lions offensive line had it’s projected starting five blockers all healthy enough to start a game together. The good health lasted just 21 snaps into the Lions’ Week 13 win in New Orleans before center Frank Ragnow departed with a leg injury.

It’s a recurring theme for the Lions. Keeping the same five offensive linemen on the field has proven to be a major challenge for Detroit. Ragnow’s departure came after getting left guard Jonah Jackson back from a multi-week absence due to wrist and ankle injuries.

Entering the season, Detroit’s projected starting five looked like this:

LT Taylor Decker

LG Jonah Jackson

C Frank Ragnow

RG Halapoulivaati Vaitai

RT Penei Sewell

That grouping played 75 snaps together. With Vaitai out for the season, that number won’t get any higher.

Fortunately, the team brought back free agent Graham Glasgow in the offseason to provide depth. Glasgow, back after three injury-plagued years in Denver, stepped in for Vaitai at right tackle to provide the “new” starting five. That group has been the Lions’ most common in 2023 and was the lineup to start Week 13.

Alas, the frequency is near the worst in the league. That lineup has been on the field for 212 snaps, or just over 26 percent of the offensive plays in 2023. Sewell is the only Lions lineman to play in all 12 games this season. Just six other teams have a lower most-frequent O-line combination.

The good news is that when the current (hopeful) starting five are together, they’re truly elite. That specific group has an EPA (expected points added) over average of .22, good for ninth in the NFL. But if you filter out groupings that haven’t played at least 100 snaps in 2023, they’re the NFL’s best.

All advanced statistics are courtesy of Sumer Sports

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