LIONS INSIDER

Recent additions give Lions more options at left tackle

Posted Jun 15, 2017

After signing Cyrus Kouandjio and trading for Greg Robinson, the Lions have even more options at left tackle.

If Thursday taught Lions fans anything, it’s that when general manager Bob Quinn spots a perceived hole, he’s proactive in filling it.

We’ve seen it in free agency, in the draft and with trades.

His most recent roster revamp involves trading an undisclosed draft pick to the Los Angeles Rams in return for former No. 2 overall pick tackle Greg Robinson. He also signed free-agent tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.

The additions of Robinson and Kouandjio give the Lions two veteran tackles to help fill the void opened when starting left tackle Taylor Decker suffered a right shoulder injury in early June.

Robinson started 42 of the 46 games he played in Los Angeles the last three seasons, but has never quite lived up to his draft status. He’s struggled with penalties (14) and protection issues (eight sacks allowed), and was shifted to right tackle this offseason.

In Detroit, Robinson (6-5, 332) is hoping to benefit from a fresh start and a new scheme.

“I plan on benefitting from it tremendously,” he said after taking in Detroit’s last minicamp practice Thursday. “It’s really refreshing and I plan to make the most out of it.

“Really, my goal is to come in and try my best to learn (the offense) as much as possible and from there just step in and take to coaching and perform to the best of my ability.”

Kouandjio, who was also in Detroit Thursday watching practice, said he decided to sign with the Lions because he liked the offense and there was more opportunity to get on the field here than with other teams.

Kouandjio (6-7, 322) spent the last three seasons in Buffalo. He’s played in 25 career games with seven starts. He started five games at left tackle for the Bills in 2016, and earned a positive grade from Pro Football Focus for his performance last season.

“They’re both good athletes,” head coach Jim Caldwell said of Robinson and Kouandjio. “Good athletes that have ability and they’ve played a bit in the league. We’re happy to have them. Both guys give us an opportunity to get better and that’s the key.” 

Decker is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery earlier this month. His status for the 2017 season will be updated at the start of training camp, though Caldwell initially said Decker isn’t expected at this point to miss the entire season.

With Thursday’s additions, the Lions have options to fill the void at left tackle until Decker can return. The competition in training camp to decide that pecking order should be fierce between Robinson, Kouandjio, Tony Hills, Cornelius Lucas, Corey Robinson (if he’s healthy) and others.

“I think one of the things you have to understand about us and I think it’s kind of been consistent, that we’re looking for every opportunity that we can to improve our football team,” Caldwell said. “That’s what we’re all about. We’re trying to get better and we’ve got to get better fast.

“So, any opportunity that we see that we can get some improvement, we’re going to certainly look at those closely.”

Joe Dahl has been taking most of the first-team reps at left tackle, but he could be a candidate to move back into his more natural spot at guard.

“Obviously, some things will change in that regard,” Caldwell said when asked if Dahl could move back inside. “How we’ll move which guy, you know those kind of things, there’s a few things we can do in terms of our adjustment. That’s one we’ll consider, but he has some flexibility, obviously. We’ll see.”

Robinson admitted Thursday that his career thus far hasn’t gone the way he would have liked, but he's looking forward to the chance to improve with a new opportunity in Detroit.

“I think at this point, besides all the negative, it is just trying to improve as much as possible,” he said. “That’s all I can offer. I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”