Lions are not concerned about Kevin Zeitler missing practice time during OTAs

Kevin Zeitler was a notable absence at OTA practices, those open to media anyway, but it's safe to say the Lions are not concerned.
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As losing Jonah Jackson became more and more inevitable, the Detroit Lions had to be prepared to pivot and keep their offensive line top-notch. They landed veteran guard Kevin Zeitler on a reasonable one-year deal, and all signs point toward the best offensive line actually being better.

The value of non-padded OTA practices is not that great for many veterans who have a solidified role on a team. Knee and ankle injuries also sidelined Zeitler for the final two regular season games with the Baltimore Ravens last year.

Zeitler returned to action in the playoffs for the Ravens, but it's fair to say he could have some lingering effects and rest is more beneficial than practice during OTAs if there's an injury (or an injury recovery) in play. Rookie Christian Mahogany surely benefited from getting a lot of reps at right guard during OTAs.

Alas, while he was at mandatory minicamp, Zeitler did not participate in on-field work at any OTA practices that were open to the media. If the same kind of reports about his lack of practice participation come when training camp starts next month, then there can be cause for concern.

But at 34 years old entering his 13th NFL season, Zeitler missing practice in May and June is not a big thing. The team, or a least a pertinent member of the coaching staff, appears to agree.

Hank Fraley is not worried about Kevin Zeitler missing OTA practices

Over 12 seasons playing for four teams (Bengals, Browns, Giants, Ravens), Zeitler has played in a variety of offensive schemes and maintained a high level of play throughout.

As offensive line coach Hank Fraley said recently, via Lions Wire, it may be just a matter of unearthing some past technique for Zeitler as he acclimates to what the Lions do.

"He’s got a lot of experience,” Fraley said. "He’s doing new things, a little bit of new technique maybe he hasn’t been asked in a while to do. Offensively, we do a lot here, a lot of variety, and it’s been fun for him. Some of it can be challenging for him, which is good, to keep you engaged. So it’s been good for the room, and these guys get along, they gel and he’s been professional. I think that’s what guys get to see.”

Fraley said he expects Zeitler will be ready to go for training camp. Fraley also noted the struggle offensive and defensive lineman have to get substantive work done without pads on during OTAs.

"We’ll really get it when training camp comes up front,” Fraley said. “When the pads go on. We like to joke around, this is like being in underwear for us up front. D-line and O-line, it’s tough. That’s where we’re going to join, get it.”

So, as expected, Zeitler not participating in OTA practices is not a big deal. Expect him to be ready to get after it when the team reconvenes for training camp, pads come on and meaningful work to get ready for the season gets rolling.