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2022 training camp preview: Offensive line

On the roster: T Taylor Decker, C Frank Ragnow, T Penei Sewell, G Halapoulivaati Vaitai, G Jonah Jackson, T Matt Nelson, C Evan Brown, T Dan Skipper, G Tommy Kraemer, G Logan Stenberg, T Obinna Eze, G Kevin Jarvis, G Zein Obeid

Key losses: None

Table inside Article
Name Games Sacks Allowed Penalties
Taylor Decker 9 3.0 6
Frank Ragnow 4 0.0 0
Penei Sewell 16 5.0 8
Halapoulivaati Vaitai 15 0.0 2
Jonah Jackson 16 4.0 8
Matt Nelson 13 4.0 0
Dan Skipper 1 0.0 0
Evan Brown 16 1.0 3
Tommy Kraemer 9 0.0 2
Logan Stenberg 7 0.0 0
Obinna Eze* 12 4.0 -
Kevin Jarvis* 12 1.0 -
Zein Obeid* 12 0.0 -

*college stats

Best competition: Last couple roster spots

The Lions are absolutely loaded upfront along their offensive line with both talent and depth. It's one of the top units in the game when healthy. It's not out of the realm of possibility that as many as four players up front for the Lions could be considered Pro Bowl contenders.

Detroit kept nine offensive linemen on the active roster Week 1 last year while Decker was on IR after suffering a finger injury the week heading into the regular-season opener. Going by that model, that's the five starters (Decker, Jackson, Ragnow, Vaitai, Sewell) and then top tackle reserve Nelson and the backup center Brown, who can also play guard. If the Lions want four tackles, then one of the competitions to watch in camp is between Skipper and the rookie Eze, who sticks out in a crowd with his size (6-8, 325) and arm length (36 1/8).

That leaves one of the final guard spots up for grabs between the veterans Kraemer and Stenberg and the rookies Jarvis and Obeid. I would expect the competition to be pretty tight with Kraemer and Stenberg the top two candidates for the last roster spot heading into camp.

View photos of the Detroit Lions offensive linemen heading into training camp.

Twentyman's take: Detroit's really done a nice job over the years spending resources to build up their offensive line, and that includes previous front office regimes. The Lions have built arguably one of the best offensive lines in football, and that should serve them well.

Those guys upfront helped plow the way for the Lions to gain better than 1,800 yards on the ground with 12 rushing touchdowns and a 4.4-yard average a year ago, which is something the team hadn't done since 1998. And that's with their top five starters never playing a single game together as a unit.

Quarterback Jared Goff is at his best when he's able to utilize play action and is protected to sit in the pocket and find matchups. That was a big part of his success the second half of the season last year. This unit is expected to give him a consistent rushing attack and protection in the passing game.

The Lions utilize their jumbo package upfront a lot and that makes Nelson, or whoever wins the swing tackle role, essentially a sixth starter for them.

There's really no weakness upfront for the Lions. Decker is a top 10 tackle, and some people close to the game would argue he's top five. Ragnow is one of the best centers in football. Jackson was a Pro Bowler last year in just his second season. Vaitai didn't allow a single sack in 16 games last season. And Sewell is trending toward being a Pro Bowler at right tackle sooner rather than later.

If you're the type of football fan who admires good play upfront on offense, you might get spoiled in 2022.

By the numbers:

2: Career touchdown receptions for Decker after securing his second, a 6-yard catch Week 18 last season. Decker joins Bills T Dion Dawkins as the only active offensive linemen in the NFL with multiple touchdown receptions in their career.

36: Sacks allowed by the Lions last season, which ranked 14th in the NFL.

114: Times the Lions featured an extra lineman on the field of their 1,056 offensive plays this season (10.8 percent). Detroit's 114 plays with jumbo personnel and 10.8 percent of plays with jumbo personnel ranked second behind only New Orleans (17.9 percent) in the NFL in 2021. The league average is 3.9 percent.

1,641: Rushing yards racked up by Lions running backs last season, the 11th most in the NFL.

Quotable: "It's always good to see those guys out there," Lions offensive line coach Hank Fraley said during June's minicamp of seeing all five starters on the field together.

"It's been awhile since the five of those guys have even taken a rep together, but it was good. When we look out there I think we have a lot of depth on this team, especially with the o-line. Those guys love working together and to see all five of those guys run out together, they can be a special group."

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