LIONS INSIDER

Dominic Raiola named Eric Andolsek Top Offensive Lineman

Posted Jan 9, 2014

Raiola earned the second-highest grade among centers from the advanced statistical website Pro Football Focus for his play in 2013

Dominic Raiola, 35, knows the end of his NFL career is nearing. It's more a product of his age, however, than his play on the football field this past year.

Raiola had probably the finest of his 13 NFL seasons in 2013 and has been awarded the Eric Andolsek Top Offensive Lineman of the Year Award by his teammates.

The Eric Andolsek Award is presented to the team’s outstanding offensive lineman. The award is given in memory of the Lions’ Eric Andolsek, who was emerging as one of the top young guards in the NFL when he was killed tragically in an off-season accident in 1992.

Dominic RaiolaPHOTO: G. Smith/Detroit Lions

He started every game from 1989-91, making his 50th consecutive start in his final contest, the 1991 NFC Championship Game. He was named to the USA Today’s All-Pro Team that year, his first such honor as a Lion.

Raiola made a concerted effort to put on about 20 pounds of weight and strength last offseason in hopes of holding up against some of the bigger more physical defensive tackles in the league better. The effort certainly paid dividends. Raiola earned the second-highest grade among centers from the advanced statistical website Pro Football Focus and did not allow a sack.

The longest tenured player on the roster, Raiola played in his 200th NFL game on Thanksgiving this year.

He’s played in every game in 12 of his 13 seasons since coming to the Lions in 2001 as a second-round draft pick in 2001. The only games he missed were four in a row in 2008 because of an injured right thumb he suffered in a loss at Chicago.

Raiola took a pay cut to return last season and will be an unrestricted free agent when his contract expires in March.

"All I want to say is that I still want to play and I know I can still play," Raiola said. "I definitely want to play with these guys and give it another go for a couple more years.

"I still have a lot of gas left in this tank."