What OL options do the Lions have if LT Taylor Decker can’t play?

The Detroit Lions came out of Kansas City in Week 1 without any serious injuries. That’s a cherry on top of the delicious victory sundae of beating the Chiefs. But there was one injury that popped up that could sour the Week 2 lineup against Seattle.

Left tackle Taylor Decker suffered an injury to his ankle in the win over the Chiefs. He didn’t miss any snaps in the game, but Decker was in a walking boot afterward. The veteran also missed practice on Tuesday due to the ankle.

Head coach Dan Campbell doesn’t seem too worried about not having Decker in Ford Field on Sunday. Here’s what Campbell said about his left tackle,

“He played the whole game with it and finished out, which man, that was outstanding. I mean, Deck’s a tough SOB, man. So, to watch him battle out there, it was impressive. So, look, we’ll know a lot more in a few days, but I’m encouraged because I know, there again, he finished out that game and we’re pretty good everywhere else.”

Replacing Decker — in the unlikely event he misses the Seahawks matchup — would not be easy. The Lions do have some moving pieces and parts that give Campbell and offensive line coach Hank Fraley some options, however…

Move Penei Sewell to LT

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

This seems to be the most obvious move: switch right tackle Penei Sewell to the left side. Yet it’s not a perfect solution for Sewell, who has thrived at right tackle, or a Lions offensive scheme that favors running to the right behind him.

It can be hard to remember, but Sewell did not play very well at left tackle as a rookie in 2021 when he replaced an injured Decker to start the year. That was Sewell’s first few NFL games and he’d only practiced on the right side, which is critically important context, but he’s proven to be considerably better on the right.

Another (perhaps) unintended consequence of flipping Sewell’s side temporarily to cover any Decker injury is that it could provide a glimpse of the future. Decker is under contract through 2024, at which time the Lions might want to move Sewell to the left side permanently.

Insert Matt Nelson at LT

David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Moving Sewell around requires correlating lineup changes and positional shifting. If the Lions want to keep it simpler, sliding backup OT Matt Nelson into Decker’s spot at left tackle would be the option.

Nelson has played almost 1,000 NFL regular-season snaps, so he’s got some legit experience in his four-plus seasons in Detroit. Alas, just five of those reps have come at left tackle — and four of those were in victory formation kneel-downs.

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In the preseason, Nelson struggled while playing left tackle. In 53 pass protection snaps at LT, he allowed four QB hits and seven QB pressures. That’s more than Decker typically gives up in a month of regular-season starts.

It’s an option. Not the option I would choose nor one I think the Lions would utilize, but it at least has to be in the discussion.

Sewell at LT, then what?

The rookies

Story originally appeared on Lions Wire