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2020 training camp preview: Offensive line

Tackles on the roster: Taylor Decker, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Tyrell Crosby, Matt Nelson, Dan Skipper

Interior offensive linemen on the roster: Frank Ragnow, Joe Dahl, Kenny Wiggins, Oday Aboushi, Jonah Jackson, Logan Stenberg, Caleb Benenoch, Beau Benzschawel, Josh Garnett, Russell Bodine

Key losses: Guard Graham Glasgow, tackle Rick Wagner

Table inside Article
Name Games Snaps Penalties Sacks allowed
Taylor Decker 15 1,017 8 4.0
Halapoulivaati Vaitai^ 16 477 4 2.0
Tyrell Crosby 16 397 6 2.5
Dan Skipper# 6 45 1 0.0
Matt Nelson 0 0 0 0.0
Frank Ragnow 15 996 5 2.0
Joe Dahl 13 798 1 3.5
Kenny Wiggins 14 438 2 1.5
Oday Aboushi 7 143 1 1.0
Jonah Jackson* 14 925 X 1
Logan Stenberg* 13 X 14 0.0
Caleb Benenoch^ 1 4 0 0.0
Beau Benzschawel 2 6 0 0.0
Josh Garnett^ 0 0 0 0.0
Russell Bodine 0 0 0 0.0

^with another team #with DET & HOU *college stats X-stat not found

Best competition: Who starts at the two guard spots?

Joe Dahl started at left guard last year, and you have to think he has a leg up to start there again heading into training camp. But the Lions did draft Jackson and Stenberg in back-to-back picks in the third and fourth rounds in this offseason's NFL Draft. Those rookies will try to make their mark early on and push for playing time.

Wiggins and Aboushi combined to play 581 snaps last season. The two veterans have 124 games and 72 combined starts under their belts. There's a lot of trust there from the coaching staff. Those two vets aren't just going to step aside and let the youngsters take their playing time without a good fight.

Benzschawel is a second-year player out of Wisconsin the team developed last year and liked the way he progressed. They even spent the time to teach him how to play center. Garnett is a former first-round pick out to prove he has something left in the tank on a one-year contract in Detroit.

Twentyman's take: The competition for the two starting guard spots alongside Decker (left tackle), Ragnow (center) and Vaitai (right tackle) will be interesting to watch throughout camp. There's a good mix of veteran and young talent there.

The Lions' offense is in its second year under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Bevell wants to be more balanced and more consistent running the football in 2020 than he was in his first season in Detroit. Run blocking is Vaitai's strong suit. Jackson and Stenberg developed a reputation in college being stout run blockers too. I wonder if that will play a part in deciding which two players are the best fit at left and right guard. If I was to make a guess heading into camp, I'd probably lean toward Dahl and Jackson getting the nods, but it will be a tightly contested battle throughout camp.

Whoever wins the two starting jobs, they'll have the benefit of playing next to Ragnow, one of the bright young stars at the center position. He was the second best run-blocking center in the NFL last year, per Pro Football Focus grading. Entering his third season, I expect Ragnow to push for a Pro Bowl bid.

By the numbers:

16: Pro Football Focus ranked the Lions as having the 16th best offensive line in the NFL heading into the season.

25: Offensive holding penalties called on the Lions last season, which was tied for the ninth most in the league.

43: Sacks allowed by the Lions in 2019. That ranked 19th in the league. The Rams had the fewest sacks allowed with 22. Miami and Carolina had the most with 58.

91: Negative plays recorded by the Lions' offense last season, which was 11th best in the league.

Quotable: "I think our offense is predicated on controlling the line of scrimmage, running the football, getting Matthew Stafford in the play-action game," Lions GM Bob Quinn said this offseason about the importance of the run game. "If you go back and chart the big plays we had last year, how many were on play-action? A good majority of them.

"So, we want that running game to be strong, we want to be versatile and I think Coach (Darrell) Bevell – you guys studied his history before he came here, and he always had successful run games wherever he was, and that really made his quarterback better. That's kind of our philosophy. We're not going to sit back there with four wide receivers and in spread. We're not doing that. Like, that's a small part of our offense."

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