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2018 training camp preview: Offensive tackle

On the roster: Taylor Decker, Rick Wagner, Brian Mihalik, Corey Robinson, Dan Skipper, Tyrell Crosby (OL), Adam Bisnowaty (OL)

Key losses: None

Making the cut: Decker, Wagner

On the bubble: Crosby, Mihalik, Robinson, Skipper, Bisnowaty

Table inside Article
Name Games Sacks Allowed PEN
Taylor Decker 8 3.0 3
Rick Wagner 13 6.0 3
Brian Mihalik 15 2.0 1
Corey Robinson 8 3.0 3
Dan Skipper 1 0.0 0
Adam Bisnowaty# 1 2.0 1
Tyrell Crosby* 13 0.0 N/A
#with NYG *college stats

Best competition: Who wins the swing tackle role?

Decker and Wagner are securely entrenched as the left and right tackles, which means the Lions will likely be looking to develop the pecking order behind those two and bring the young guys along once camp starts.

Mihalik and Robinson took snaps with the second-team offense for most of the open OTA and minicamp practices, with Crosby and Bisnowaty running with the third team. Mihalik and Robinson are veteran players with 38 combined games and 10 starts under their belt. Crosby, the team's fifth-round pick this offseason, is a young player with some position versatility and a lot of upside.

Teams typically only keep three tackles active on gameday, with the third playing the swing role as an extra lineman in short-yardage and goal line situations. Who wins roster spots and then becomes the third tackle will be a good competition throughout camp.

View photos of the offensive tackles competing for roster spots entering training camp.

Twentyman's take: The Lions have a good mix of veteran talent and youth at the tackle position.

Detroit received a gut punch last summer when Decker injured his shoulder in OTAs and was out all of camp and the first half of the season.

It didn't help that Wagner also battled injuries last season and missed three games himself after coming over in free agency as one of GM Bob Quinn's big signings last offseason.

Decker and Wagner can be a good duo on the edge of the revamped Lions offensive line, but the key is health. The best ability is availability, and that has to be the mantra for the offensive line in 2018 after starting 10 different combinations upfront last season.

Quinn said after drafting Crosby that he was by far the top player on their board at that point in the draft, and the value was just too great to pass on him. Most draft analysts thought Crosby would be a Day 2 pick. The Lions are going to put him at tackle to begin with, but he does have some position versatility. He was considered a plus run blocker coming into the league.

In Mihalik and Robinson, the Lions have two veterans with plenty of experience to play the swing role or make a spot start if needed.

The Lions should feel pretty good about the talent and depth they have assembled at tackle. The key, as always, is staying healthy.

By the numbers:

10: Different starting combinations along the offensive line for the Lions in 2017.

117.7: Detroit's passer rating on passing attempts that traveled at least 21 yards in the air. That includes 10 touchdowns and two interceptions.

52: Rushing attempts last season that lost yardage, tied for 23rd in the NFL.

43.6: Percent of all of Detroit's plays that were considered successful plays by STATS, INC. A successful play is anytime the offense gains 40 percent of the yardage necessary for a first down on first down, 50 percent of the yardage necessary for a first down on second down or gains the first down on third or fourth down. The Lions ranked 22nd in this category.

47: Sacks allowed last season.

Quotable: "Overall, we're looking for guys who are smart and tough," new offensive line coach Jeff Davidson said this offseason. "Beyond that, there's a lot of different players that if they're good enough to play, we'll try to get them to fit our system.

"But again, smart and tough are the first two characteristics we start with."

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