Left Tackle Competition Heats Up for Lions
Tomorrow, the Detroit Lions will begin their minicamp, the last hurrah before a few weeks off. Their OTA’s generated buzz for a number of players. Ameer Abdullah looks good as new; rookie wideout Kenny Golladay made a huge impression on the coaching staff; first-rounder Jarrad Davis looks the part of a defensive captain.
Unfortunately, this summer delivered some terrible news for Detroit. Their starting left tackle, Taylor Decker, will miss at least four months to a torn labrum. While this is a devastating blow to any team, the Lions have invested heavily in their offensive line and have options to man the blind side. It’s always “next man up” in the NFL, and this situation is no different.
Last year’s fifth-round pick, Joe Dahl, received first-team reps at left tackle and has the best opportunity to start in September. Dahl played both guard and tackle at Washington State, so he can realistically fill in for Decker. However, his athleticism pales in comparison to the 2016 first-rounder, and he could be a liability for this group.
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Cornelius Lucas, who the Lions tendered as a restricted free agent, split reps with Dahl. Lucas, an undrafted free agent from 2014, has the most experience with this team. Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter praised the dependability of Lucas, noting his ability to spot-start in the past.
Of course, Corey Robinson will join the mix once he recovers from foot surgery. Robinson started three games for the Lions last year as their swing tackle.
Beyond those three, the Lions have a crapshoot at tackle. Longtime journeyman Tony Hills signed with the team in the wake of Taylor Decker’s injury. Former second-round pick, Cyrus Kouandjio may be an option after visiting with the Lions. And the team does have undrafted Toledo tall man, Storm Norton. One of these guys could surprise, but most likely they’ll be competing for backup duties.
The Detroit Lions host their minicamp from Tuesday to Thursday (June 13-15) this week, and then they will break until late July for their training camp.