LIONS INSIDER

10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: What's the status of Decker?

Posted Nov 10, 2017

Tim Twentyman answers 10 fan-submitted questions as the Lions prepare for their Week 10 matchup against the Browns.

Every week during the regular season Tim Twentyman will answer 10 good questions from his Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman."

20man: It was a good sign Golladay was on the practice field Wednesday to begin the work week. He was limited, but was then on the field again Thursday. That’s three practices in a row for him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s ready to go Sunday, but it also wouldn’t shock me if he’s on some kind of a pitch count -- Use him in the red zone and on certain plays. I wouldn’t expect him to step in and be the third receiver right off the bat, especially the way TJ Jones is playing in that role.

Decker has been practicing, and I could definitely see him being activated off PUP sometime this week, and playing Sunday. This was always around the expected timeline for his return, and I believe he’s had enough practice time (a week and a half) to knock the rust off. We’ll see if the trainers and coaches agree.

20man: Don’t ever assume anything in this league. I’ve learned that over the last nine years covering the NFL.

Decker played every snap as a rookie, and was a Pro Football Writers All-Rookie team honoree. He allowed just 4.5 sacks in 16 games. Pro Football Focus listed him among the top 13 left tackles in the game last year.

The Lions won’t activate him off PUP if there’s any question whatsoever he’s not 100 percent ready to roll. If he’s activated, he’s the guy. I don’t care who the opponent is, your best players play.

Don’t take this Cleveland defense lightly, especially with No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett back in the fold after missing time. He’s a beast, and I want my best tackle playing this week, if he’s ready to roll.

20man: Certainly. The Lions are currently two games behind the Vikings, and the two square off again in three weeks on Thanksgiving. The Lions have already defeated Minnesota once at their place, which means a win on Thanksgiving gives the Lions the head-to-head tiebreaker in case they finish with same record.

Of the Lions’ remaining eight games, two are against teams currently with a .500 record or better (Minnesota, 6-2; Green Bay, 4-4). Road games in Baltimore and Cincinnati won’t be easy, don’t get me wrong, but the records are the records. As Caldwell always says, you are what your record says you are.

Of the Vikings’ remaining eight games, six are against teams currently with a .500 record or better (Washington, 4-4, Los Angeles, 6-2; Detroit, 4-4; Atlanta, 4-4; Carolina, 6-3, Green Bay, 4-4). Four of their next five games are on the road. This is a tough stretch for Minnesota.

The Lions can only control their situation. They need to continue to play well and see where the chips fall at the end of December, but I think there’s certainly an opportunity in front of them to catch Minnesota. There’s a lot of football left.

20man: When Agnew is on the field, he looks like the fastest guy out there. Look what the Chiefs do with Tyreek Hill. I’m not saying Agnew is Hill, but let’s see.

Mike O’Hara and I were talking about this earlier in the week, and I thought Mike made a good point. On some of those stretch run and toss plays outside, wouldn’t it be nice to see what Agnew’s 4-3 speed can do? The Lions don’t have another burner like him in their backfield.

Can the Lions utilize Agnew down the field in the passing game? I think these are things they’re no-doubt finding out in practice. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we continue to see more of him on that side of the ball.

20man:Yes. That’s a yes to all of the above. Everyone who has a hand in the run game from conception to execution plays a role, but at the end of the day more of the onus has to fall on the players. To me, it’s more of an execution issue than anything else. Ron Prince and Jim Bob Cooter aren’t out there missing blocks or not making defenders miss.

20man: Take a look at the numbers from Monday night again. The Lions ran the ball 33 times and threw it 33 times. Terrific balance.

Now, having a double-digit lead most of the game afforded them the ability to stay stubborn with the run game, even though most of the night they were running into a brick wall (1.9 average per carry).

Still, Cooter is going to stay loyal to the run game as long as the scoreboard offers him the opportunity. He’s a firm believer that a team can’t be one dimensional and have consistent success. The Lions have averaged 25 rushes per game over the first eight weeks of the season. Don’t expect that to change much moving forward, unless they get into a situation where they are behind and have to throw to get back in it.

20man: The Lions have good depth at cornerback, they’ve been able to stay healthy there, and Tabor is a rookie.

That being said, did you see him play 11 snaps on defense in Green Bay? He was an extra defensive back in certain packages, and it’s good that defensive coordinator Teryl Austin got him into the game on defense and got his feet wet. He’s been performing well in practice, and this is his progression. Be patient. Austin and Co. have a plan for him. Trust it and the process. This staff has had pretty good success developing players at a number of different paces.

20man: Ha. Someone saw the Sights and Sounds segment this week with Lang mic’d up. He should be mic’d up every week. He’s great.

I’m assuming you are referring to the part where he was trailing Theo Riddick on the 63-yard screen pass, and was hoping Riddick would pitch it back to him. I can safely say that if we ever see Lang running with the football, something has gone very wrong. Either the Lions fumbled and he picked it up, or they are lateraling in desperation at the end of the game.

Lang will stick to moving guys out of the way for Abdullah, Riddick and Co. Abdullah did promise, however, that Lang would be rewarded by being able to spike the football on Abdullah’s next touchdown run.

Hopefully, that’s Sunday. We’ll have to monitor Lang’s progress through the concussion protocol this week. He was diagnosed late on Wednesday, which puts his status for Sunday somewhat in doubt.

20man: Good question. This one piqued my interest, so I looked it up. Dating back to the middle of the 2015 season, when Cooter took over, the longest run from scrimmage was the 42-yarder last year by Riddick in Minnesota. It’s the only run of 40-plus yards the Lions have had the last two years.

Now, those plays are fairly rare in the NFL, but I’m still a little surprised by that total.

20man: I don’t get the sense talking with Detroit players this week that they’re taking Cleveland lightly, despite the Browns’ 0-8 record. Their defense is legit, and they’ve lost a number of close games.

Caldwell was asked about this Thursday, and here was his response:

“I think it’s always a bit of a delicate balancing act, and the players that have been around in this league know and understand,” he said. “The guys that you have to be concerned about are younger guys sometimes. But they’ve been in enough games now the guys that we expect to do something for us, even the young guys.

“They understand how difficult it is to play in this league and that everybody has players. But we try to reinforce that, and we do it through several different means, but make certain that it’s plain to them so that they understand, and that’s kind of our job in terms of communication.”