More than any position in football, the offensive line unit has to be in lockstep and have five guys playing as one to be really successful.
The Detroit Lions will at the very least have a new starting right guard and right tackle after the departures of Graham Glasgow and Rick Wagner in free agency. There are some new faces in the offensive line room in veteran tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai and rookie guards Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg, who will all try to earn starting roles alongside incumbent starters Taylor Decker (left tackle), Joe Dahl (left guard) and Frank Ragnow (center).
Because the Lions are taking part in virtual meetings in lieu of OTAs and minicamps, getting all the new pieces together as one cohesive unit is much more difficult to accomplish ahead of training camp.
"The onus is really going to be on learning what you're supposed to do and be a professional about it, so when we do get to be able to be in person and play next to one another, there isn't the challenge of not knowing assignments on top of getting a little familiarity and trying to get some fluidity going maybe if you're playing next to a new guy," Decker said Thursday in a Zoom call from Arizona, where he’s been training since the conclusion of last season.
Decker certainly knows what he's talking about having played next to four different starting left guards throughout his four-year career. OTAs and the June minicamp are terrific opportunities to start to feel out new teammates' nuances and playing styles, even in that limited contact setting. In a normal year, it at least gives players a head start heading into training camp.
This is anything but a normal offseason up to this point, so it will be interesting to see how fast the new players upfront fall into place with the returning vets once training camp begins.
"We're trying to do all we can via the Zoom meetings," Decker said. "Coaches flipping around and trying to go over whatever film and assignments and everything we possibly can. We're trying to maximize it. It's been nice to see everyone has been in there and taking notes and everybody's been into it.
"It's a unique challenge for all of us, but I think what we can handle we just have to be professionals about it and the assignments and things like that that we can control take care of that so we can kind of hit the ground running as best we can when we do get back to some normalcy."