ALLEN PARK — Taylor Decker is the longest-serving Detroit Lions player on their roster.
The 28-year-old left tackle is playing on his third diet heading into his seventh season in the NFL. So when Decker takes a moment to rave about the change in atmosphere and the flow of communication around these parts. It resonates more than the others.
“There’s just an established atmosphere for open communication for similar growth as a player, whether it’s player to player, player to coach, coach to coach, player to front office staff,” he said. Decker said after Monday’s practice. “There’s just this open communication where, man, this guy wants the best for me. I can ask that question and not worry about getting in trouble for not knowing the answer. Because we’re here to try and improve and if you’re a gamer and you don’t know, you’re supposed to ask the question to get the answer so you can do your job there.
“I think it’s been a huge thing – it sounds a little weird – but just the atmosphere of open communication between everyone, I think it’s been huge for the growth of the guys, the confidence guys and for everyone to get together. Because you feel that everyone cares about you.
The Lions also welcomed fans to their headquarters for practice over the weekend. They had a reported strong crowd of around 2,500 on Saturday and another contingent back in the stands for Monday’s session.
Decker said it was the most fans he had seen here for camp in years. And highlighted that level of interest as another source of energy and good feelings ahead of the new campaign.
“That says a lot because everyone knows we had bad years. It is what it is,” Decker said. “We had some bad records. I think we are going in the right direction. But, you know, they’re still there. They are still there. You hear everyone and you sign autographs saying “we love you”. We support you. We feel good here. I’ve heard most people say, “It feels good here.” The energy is good here. It’s a strange thing. But I guess everyone can kind of feel it.
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Decker echoed his fellow offensive linemen in celebrating the unique bond they have formed. The 2016 first-round pick said the group constantly talks about football and non-football topics.
“You talk about your offensive line. I love those guys,” he said. “We talk about things all the time, about football, not football, about life and it brings you closer and closer because you have this communication.
“We feed each other. We love each other, we are all very, very good friends. It’s an awesome group. »
The group also knows they have a chance to be something special this year. The five slated starters of Decker, Jonah Jackson, Frank Ragnow, Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Penei Sewell haven’t shared the field once in 2021. But that group returned to the field during the offseason program, and they were hard to miss. .
Sewell was one of the best rookies in the game, showing clear signs of development over time. The young right tackle picked up where he left off to open camp at Allen Park. Ragnow is one of the best centers in the NFL. Jackson made his first Pro Bowl last year. Vaitai has shown improvement while being more available in his second season here.
As for Decker? After returning from finger surgery, he remained one of the league’s most reliable left pass blockers. Pro Football Focus ranked Decker sixth among all tackles with enough snaps in pass protection in 2021.
“I would say that’s the most talented bloodline I’ve been in, 100%. I’m not necessarily a talent evaluator, but we just have a bunch of smart, confident, athletic guys,” previously Decker said, “I think our room is a very confident room, a talented room, and we all get along really well. Our camaraderie and cohesion as a group is out of this world. It’s amazing.”
Decker and the Lions played it safe with his foot this offseason. He injured his foot in the team’s season-ending win over the Green Bay Packers. He has since clarified that it was not the same injury, but more the residual effects of rehabilitation throughout the offseason.
The left tackle didn’t practice the day before the team went off duty this weekend. But, he was there to open padded practices on Monday.
” I’m fine. It is what it is,” Decker said. “Managed via OTAs. I feel damn good, obviously, walking into camp. Now it’s just a matter of managing it, so it never dives. I think it will be fine. I feel like I’m moving well, running well.