As he eyed a return to action on Thursday night after missing the previous two games due to a right ankle injury, Detroit Lions left tackle Taylor Decker knew he'd be less than 100 percent healthy as he deals with a high ankle sprain and a bone bruise.
"It’s probably just going to (expletive) hurt,” Decker said. “It’s all right. Like I said, it’s going to hurt, but as long as I can be functional, I can deal with the pain. I’ve done it plenty of times before. I’m confident I can go out there and help us win, so it’ll be fun being back out there with everybody. Big thing is the days leading up to the game, just make sure it’s feeling as best as it can, and just go out there. You’re going to have the adrenaline pumping, and I’m sure it’ll feel even better than it did today.”
Decker indeed played against the Packers, as expected. He wasn't in peak form, but he was fine overall. The mini-bye is coming at a good time for him.
Beating the Packers made it all worth it for Taylor Decker
After the game, via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, Decker said he definitely aggravated his ankle injury.
"It sucked," Decker said. "I mean, I knew it was gonna be like that. It’s definitely aggravated and hopefully it’s not completely re-injured and stuff like that, a setback. But we got a couple extra days leading into the next game, so it’s probably just going to be something I just got to deal with for a little while now."
Decker estimated he spent six hours per day doing rehab work at the team facility, plus another two hours at home every night. He plans to maintain that routine heading toward Week 5 against the Carolina Panthers.
Decker knew his performance would suffer playing with his ankle issue, and that's backed up by a 48.0 grade from Pro Football Focus. But beating the Packers made what he had to endure to play totally worth it.
"That was the whole point in me coming back to play," Decker said. "I felt like I could help the team win, even if I wasn’t going to be able to play up to my standard, I can still do some things to help the team win, and that’s the ultimate goal. My personal grievances with how I played, like, that’s secondary to the team goal, so, I can handle that. I can handle that if it’s gonna help the team win."
The extra time before the Lions' next game will be beneficial for Decker. But as it always is with injured players who are willing to do whatever it takes to play (most players), the risk-reward of having him play at less than full strength may have to be weighed moving forward.