Line ’em up
The front of the Lions offense has been in a state of constant flux ever since starting left tackle, Taylor Decker, got hurt in June. His labrum (shoulder) needed surgery and the front office has been trying to patch the line ever since.
This week brings the news that Taylor Decker is back at practice with a three-week window to move him to the active roster. Lions beat writer, Tim Twentyman, wrote the following about Decker’s return:
"“It will now be up to coaches to determine when Decker will be ready for game action, whether that’s Monday night at Lambeau Field, in two weeks vs. Cleveland at Ford Field or later.”"
Most believe that Decker will not play Monday, but if he were able to, that would be a huge deal. The Lions line, as Twentyman cited in that same piece, have generated the 28th ranked rushing offense in the NFL and have given up 25 sacks, fourth most of the 32 teams.
Jim Caldwell, Lions head coach, offered this about Decker’s return, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press:
"“We’ll see,” Caldwell said. “I’m not putting any limitations on it. It could be two weeks from now. It could be three weeks from now. We’ll see.”"
Decker, if reasonably healthy, could stabilize the left side of the line which has by far been the more problematic. Rick Wagner, the right tackle, and T.J. Lang, the right guard, have been fighting injuries, as well, but both have continued to play.
Perhaps Caldwell is engaging in some gamesmanship, suggesting Decker may come back when he knows that is unlikely; after hearing his quotes, it seems more likely that they haven’t seen enough to determine how ready Decker is to return, yet.
I suppose that it’s needless to say that many of Detroit’s struggles start here, and that this group needs to play better if the Lions are to improve their ground attack, keep quarterback Matt Stafford healthy, or challenge for a division title.