LIONS INSIDER

Prince confident Taylor Decker can take the next step

Posted Aug 7, 2016

The Lions are asking a lot of rookie tackle Taylor Decker, and offensive line coach Ron Prince is very confident Decker can handle it.

Taylor Decker is a rookie, and rookies in this league make mistakes.

Let’s get that out of the way right now.

Decker, the Lions’ first-round draft pick this spring, has been inserted at left tackle with the first-team offense to begin training camp. He alternated between left and right tackle shortly after arriving in Detroit for the offseason training program, but it appears the Lions have settled on him manning Matthew Stafford’s blind side moving forward.

In doing so, the Lions obviously believe he can handle the job, but they also know it’s not going to be perfect all the time.

“He’s going to have a lot of challenges ahead of him, he’s going to play against a bunch of great players,” offensive line coach Ron Prince said of Decker. “It’s not a game of perfect, and we know that, but we feel very, very confident that he can make that kind of step.”

Decker’s spot at left tackle for the season opener in Indianapolis Sept. 11 isn’t set in stone just yet. There are still a couple practices in Pittsburgh to go, four preseason games and a few more weeks of camp.

Decker himself even admitted that nothing has been promised to him.

“They haven’t entrusted me with anything yet,” he said the first week of camp.

But it’s certainly trending that way. He’s taken every first-team rep at left tackle through the first seven practices of camp.

Besides being big, athletic and smart, the fact that Decker performed at a very high level the last two seasons at a program like Ohio State gave Prince the first indication he could handle the job right away in the NFL.

“He’s done it at a high level in college,” Prince said. “Perhaps had he played at a little bit different level or maybe hadn’t played against some of the people he played against you would say, ‘OK, maybe this is a bit of a projection.''

Decker was a three-year starter who played in 54 games and started 42 times for a team that went 50-4 during his four-years (2012-15) at Ohio State. He made 28 starts at left tackle the last two seasons.

“For Deck, we understand that he has a lot of things to improve on,” Prince said. “A lot of areas to move the needle. Obviously, we've given him the opportunity to show what he can do at that position because we think his learning curve shouldn’t be as steep, or his performance curve, wouldn’t be as steep. To this point he hasn’t disappointed.”

Decker’s kept his head down and gone to work since arriving in Detroit. Prince says veteran tackle Riley Reiff has been a great resource for him.

Reiff, who started the last three seasons at left tackle for the Lions, has moved over to the right side since Decker arrived.

Decker is going to experience ups and downs like any rookie, but to this point, he hasn’t done anything to make the Lions believe he’s not ready for the job.