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2023 training camp preview: Offensive line

On the roster: Taylor Decker, Penei Sewell, Frank Ragnow, Jonah Jackson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Graham Glasgow, Matt Nelson, Colby Sorsdal, Logan Stenberg, Kayode Awosika, Obinna Eze, Brad Cecil, Ryan Swoboda, Connor Galvin, Germain Ifedi, Darrin Paulo, Ross Pierschbacher, Max Pircher

Table inside Article
Name Games Sacks allowed Penalties
Taylor Decker 17 4.0 6
Penei Sewell 17 1.5 8
Frank Ragnow 16 0.0 3
Jonah Jackson 13 0.0 3
Halapoulivaati Vaitai 0 0.0 0
Graham Glasgow^ 17 4.0 7
Matt Nelson 11 0.0 2
Colby Sorsdal* 13 -- --
Logan Stenberg 16 1.5 3
Kayode Awosika 10 1.0 0
Obinna Eze 0 0.0 0
Brad Cecil* 12 -- --
Ryan Swoboda* 14 -- --
Connor Galvin* 13 -- --
Germain Ifedi^ 17 0.0 0
Darrin Paulo 0 0.0 0
Ross Pierschbacher 3 0.0 0
Max Pircher 0 0.0 0

^with another team *college stats

Best competition: Who starts at right guard?

The two main players in the hunt for Detroit's only open starting spot upfront are Vaitai and Glasgow, though others could put themselves into the conversation with a good training camp.

Vaitai had the job in 2021 and played well, allowing no sacks and committing just two penalties in 15 starts. He missed all of last year after suffering a back injury the last week of the preseason. He contemplated retirement this offseason, but wanted to be part of something he thinks can be special in Detroit in 2023. He wants his starting job back.

Glasgow spent his first four seasons in Detroit before signing with Denver in free agency in 2020 and playing the last three years for the Broncos. He started 13 of the 17 games he played in last year, allowing four sacks and committing seven penalties.

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

Twentyman's take: I give the early edge to Vaitai in the competition for the right guard spot. The Lions have one of the top two offensive lines in football along with Philadelphia, despite the fact we haven't seen their top five guys play in a single contest together the last two years. That's pretty wild to think about.

Decker, Sewell, Ragnow and Jackson are premier players at their position and allow this offense to operate smoothly in all aspects. Detroit threw for at least 4,000 yards and rushed for at least 2,000 yards for the first time in franchise history last year. A team doesn't accomplish that without strong offensive line play.

Ragnow is still dealing with the same toe injury that cost him 14 games in 2021, but he's learned to play through the pain and still plays at a high level. It's something the team will always have to monitor and manage.

Despite running for over 2,000 yards and scoring 23 rushing touchdowns last season, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson thought there were a number of big plays in the run game left on the table, and the hope is new running backs David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs can get the most out of the lanes and holes the big guys upfront will provide.

The Lions have good depth with players like Glasgow, Nelson, Sorsdal and Eze. Offensive line coach Hank Fraley is one of the best in the business, and this is far and away Detroit's strongest position group.

View photos of Lions fifth-round pick Colby Sorsdal from the 2023 offseason.

By the numbers:

24: Quarterback Jared Goff was sacked just 24 times for 163 yards, ranking second best in the NFL last year behind only Tampa Bay (22 sacks & 160 yards).

42.1: Percent of Detroit's rushes in 2022 that went to the weakside, which was the second highest percentage in the NFL last season behind only Pittsburgh (45.5).

105: The Lions featured an extra offensive lineman on 105 of their 1,092 offensive plays this past season (9.6 percent). Detroit's 105 plays and 9.6 percent of plays with jumbo personnel ranked second in the NFL behind only Cleveland (134 & 12.0).

1995: Sewell was the first Lions tackle to be named to the Pro Bowl since Lomas Brown in 1995.

6,460: Total net yards recorded by the Lions' offense in 2022 which was the second most in franchise history.

Quotable: "Shoot, sky is the limit," Sewell said this offseason of the higher expectations for the Lions in 2023. "Definitely off the bat expectations are way higher than last year. We're coming out with different intent and different purpose than we were here last year. Attention to detail has to go up. Room for error shortens a lot."

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