ALLEN PARK — Taylor Decker is expected to pull a full load on Sunday when the Lions face the Bears in Chicago.
Last Sunday the left tackle played his first game since he underwent shoulder surgery in June.
With Decker holding down left tackle, and right guard T.J. Lang expected to return after missing last Sunday’s game with a concussion, the offensive line will finally be healthy. It should look like it was envisioned by GM Bob Quinn when he signed Lang and right tackle Rick Wagner as free agents.
(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)
“As you go through a season, a lot of times you have injuries and you get less healthy along the way. To be able to look up and get more healthy, that’s a benefit. We have a bunch of good players on this offense and every week in this league guys are dealing with things, sometimes guys are up, guys are down,’’ offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said. “When you have a full complement, whenever that is, that’s good for the team. That’s good for the offense and hopefully we’ll see improvement there.”
Five things to know about Decker:
1. In his first game back he only played 36 snaps in the win over the Browns. He and Brian Mihalik swapped out every other series. Decker had no problem with that plan since he hadn’t played a snap since last January. But it wasn’t easy to shuttle in and out when he’s used to playing every snap. Again, he was good with the plan because rust, indeed, is a real thing. Look for him to be more productive when he’s in for every snap.
2. Decker said those reps were needed. “It’s pretty invaluable to get those game reps, you’re not going to be comfortable until you get them. You can try to emulate, simulate that as much as possible in practice but it’s not the same, it’s not the same speed or intensity,’’ Decker said on Thursday.
3. After surgery and two months with his arm in a sling, it’s good to be back. “I feel like every single day I’m getting better right now, I’m getting more comfortable but I didn’t get a training camp, I didn’t get a preseason or anything like that. I’ve got to accelerate my learning curve to get comfortable. But at the end of the day we’re all football players here so you’re comfortable on the field,’’ Decker said.
4. He doesn’t buy into the concept that at least he’ll have fresh legs with seven games left. “You can be in really good shape, but when you’re actually out there playing football it’s different. You’ve just got to get used to playing football again,’’ Decker said. “You could be in really good shape and I guess have fresh legs but I don’t know if that’s necessarily a real thing.’’
5. There’s no ideal opponent to face in the first games back. “No matter when you return or when you come back from an injury you’re going to play against a good player,’’ Decker said. “Everybody in the NFL is a professional pass rusher so the Bears present a challenge because they have a good defensive front and they have a varying level of rushers — they’ve got guys are more twitchy, more speed, they’ve got guys who are more power and they change it up so they present a good challenge for us.’’
BONUS: The run game had a good day against the Browns in Decker’s first game back, but he won’t take credit for that. “Correlation does not equal causation,’’ Decker said.