Lions First Round Draft Pick Decker Expected To Be Team’s Staring LT
The Detroit Lions have one of the worst Super Bowl odds this season, but that isn’t stopping them from trying to make a playoff run this year after missing out last season. The team underwent a few changes in the offseason, the most notable being the retirement of Calvin Johnson, but even without Megatron in the lineup, the Lions feel they have a solid group of players and are capable of making a playoff run.
One of the biggest weaknesses for Detroit last season was the play of their offensive line, which was one of the worst when it came to creating holes for running backs and at protecting the quarterback. The team tried to address the offensive line issues during the offseason, and took Taylor Decker in the first round of the NFL Draft.
While facing the Pittsburgh Steelers defense in practice, head coach Jim Caldwell was able to evaluate his players and determine where they stand before the season begins. As expected, one of the places the head coach paid extra attention to during the practice was his offensive line.
Even though the Lions drafted three offensive linemen, Caldwell’s focus was mostly on Decker, whom they used a high draft pick on. To make room for Decker, Caldwell moved veteran lineman Riley Reiff from left tackle to right tackle, opening up the left tackle role for Decker.
Since the left tackle protects the quarterback’s blind spot, Decker has to prove to the team that he is capable of keeping Matthew Stafford’s blind side protected for 16 games. Since the draft, the Lions have had Decker playing in the4 left tackle position, which indicates he will be the team’s starting left tackle once the season starts.
When Caldwell was asked to assess Decker’s performance so far, and the coach said he hasn’t seen too many things to complain about. The coach said he saw the offensive line make a few mistakes, but Decker wasn’t at fault. Caldwell told reporters that he would look more closely at the tape from the practices to see the mistakes made by the line.
The Lions offensive line has to be happy with what they heard from their coach, because it means they are performing better than expected, and look like a significant improvement over the offensive line from last season, which struggled with the run and against pass rush.
Being able to practice against the Steelers this week allowed Decker to play against a 3-4 defensive front, after practicing against 4-3 defenses during the offseason. The ability to face a different defense before the season starts helps him to be prepared for different scenarios he will face during the season.
Despite giving up a sack early in 11 on 11 drills, Decker played well against Pittsburgh’s defensive front, which made his coaches happy. He also helped to keep the Pittsburgh defense from Matthew Stafford during the team’s final drill of the day.
With preseason games starting this weekend, the coaches and fans will get a better look at Detroit’s revamped offensive line, which will get a significant amount of playing time in the preseason in order to be where they need to be when the season starts.