MIKE O'HARA

Dominic Raiola honored by preseason All-Pro nod

Posted Aug 19, 2014

Dominic Raiola hasn’t played for the Lions so long that getting recognized by a national analyst as being the best at his position has no meaning to him.

Dominic Raiola hasn’t played for the Lions so long that getting recognized by a national analyst as being the best at his position has no meaning to him.

Raiola can appreciate being named the center on NFL.com’s 2014 preseason All-Pro team, as compiled by Elliot Harrison and posted Tuesday. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is the other Lion on the team.

“It’s a great honor,” Raiola said. “There’s no way around it. Selfishly, it’s good for me. I really mean that when I say it’s a reflection of how our group played. It’s an honor we can share as a group.

“It’s good to know we have a big role this year, and as a group, we’re going to be looked at as one of the better offensive lines. And we have to prove that.”

But as Raiola prepares for the start of his 14th season, his focus is entirely on the identity he expects the offense to show when the Lions start the regular season against the Giants on Sept. 8 at Ford Field on Monday Night TV.

 “That we can do whatever we want on offense,” Raiola said. “Just prove to ourselves that we’re ready for Monday night, and by doing that, as an offense, we want to take what we want.

“We don’t want to take what the defense gives us. We want to take what we want. That’s the mindset that I hope everybody on offense has.”

Dominic RaiolaC Dominic Raiola (Photo: Gavin Smith)

Two preseason games remain to prepare for the opener -- home against Jacksonville Friday night, and at Buffalo a week from Thursday night.

Raiola has compiled an impressive personal log for durability and performance with 204 games played and 188 starts in 13 seasons. Raiola is in the top 10 among active position players in both categories.

It isn’t a coincidence that he is playing some of his best ball late in his career. He gained about 15 pounds before last season to help match up better against big defensive tackles.

Raiola also has gained perspective on controlling his emotions on the field, and how to avoid incidents such as the one Monday night when Browns rookie Johnny Manziel flipped the bird to players on Washington’s bench.

Raiola has been fined in the past for similar behavior.

“Enjoy the FedEx; that’s my thought,” Raiola said, referring to how the NFL delivers word to players that they have been fined for inappropriate conduct.
“You can’t do that. I’ve grown up a lot since that.”

Raiola, 35, is the oldest player on the Lions’ roster, but he doesn’t act like a crusty veteran nearing the end of his career.

Larry Warford, in his second season as the starter at right guard, was more surprised to learn that this is Raiola’s 14thseason than to hear he was picked for an All-Pro team.

“It’s earned,” Warford said of the All-Pro selection. “I’ve heard that last year was one of his best years. It just shows the drive he has to become better, regardless of the circumstances or how long he’s been in the league.

“I was shocked when I heard he was in his 14th year. He outworks everybody. That’s not just me saying that. He’s the first one in lifting weights and the last one leaving the weight room.

“He knows everything. He’s like a Jedi or Yoda.”