Penei Sewell is getting plenty of outside acknowledgement, but the Lions right tackle is setting standards akin to all-time greats.
Penei Sewell had what could be called a turbulent rookie season in some respects, at least early. He was slated to be the Lions’ right tackle, then he moved across to left tackle when Taylor Decker was injured right before Week 1, just in time to take on Nick Bosa in the season opener. Then when Decker was healthy, Sewell moved back to the right side and played very well.
Despite little flaw to find in his work last season, especially after a couple of rougher games early, Sewell called what he did as a rookie “not good enough.”
Through Week 3 this season, Pro Football Focus graded Sewell as the No. 1 right tackle in the league. Praise also came from NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger and offensive line guru Brandon Thorn this past week.
Baldinger compared Sewell to 49ers left tackle and future Hall of Famer Trent Williams.
"This is like veteran Trent Williams type stuff, and this kid is in his second season,” said Baldinger. “Penei Sewell is a rising star, an absolute physical freak.”"
Penei Sewell is not at all swayed by outside praise
The best at what they do, obviously pro athletes included, see the things they could do better more than the things they do well. For all the good work he did against Danielle Hunter in Week 3, as chronicled by Thorn and Baldinger, Sewell remembers the block he missed when Jamaal Williams was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 late against Minnesota.
"That one killed me after the game,” Sewell said Wednesday. “That was all on me. There was nothing for Jamaal to do with it. It was on me and I gotta be better than that. I know this for sure: the next opportunity that I get, I’ma make it happen.”"
As for the outside acknowledgement he’s getting?
"I don’t really pay attention to PFF and all they got to say. All that matters is what Coach Campbell and Coach Hank (Fraley) say to me."
How about how he’d assess his play so far this season?
"Meh,” said Sewell.I gotta do better. There’s a lot of technique, a lot of things that goes into it that I gotta be better at,”"
Sewell (6-foot-5, 330 pounds) is a rare athlete at offensive tackle. He’ll turn 22 soon (Oct. 9), which is a scary thought for opponents and a very warm thought for Lions fans. He is also setting the kind of standards for himself that all-time greats set for themselves, as a tone-setter for the Lions’ offensive line.