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Lions preaching 'next man up' with Decker out

The Detroit Lions were dealt a blow last week when it was announced that starting left tackle Taylor Decker would be out indefinitely after undergoing shoulder surgery.

The good news for the Lions, if there is such a thing in these instances, is that the injury happened in early June and not August or September. Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said he didn't think the injury would cost Decker the entire 2017 season.

Until Decker gets back, the Lions need to have a next-man-up mentality.

"It's unfortunate" receiver Golden Tate said Saturday at Sam Martin's Annual Celebrity Softball Game at Wayne State. "(Decker) had a heck of a year last year and is a huge part of our offense, but it happened now, so we have time to bring guys in, guys need to step up, whatever we need to do.

"We're going to work with it. It is what it is. That's the cards you've been dealt and we're going to make it happen like we always do."

The Lions have a few in-house options in Joe Dahl, Corey Robinson and Cornelius Lucas to replace Decker for the time being. The team also signed veteran Tony Hills this week.

Veteran defensive tackle Haloti Ngata knows what it's like to lose a key player in the spring. He was on the 2012 Baltimore Ravens team that saw star linebacker Terrell Suggs partially tear his Achilles in the spring. The Ravens dealt with Suggs' injury until he was eventually able to return in late October. The Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl that season with Suggs playing a major role the second half of the season.

"A lot of guys just had to step up behind him," Ngata said of that team.

Ngata said there was no replacing a player like Suggs, but guys filled a role and bridged the gap until he could get back. He says the same thing must happen in Detroit this year.

"Guys just have to step up," Ngata said. "Just make sure that we can have faith in them and trust in them and we'll just see how minicamp goes next week and training camp goes.

"I wouldn't say it's deflating, but (Decker) it's someone who can help us win games. At the same time, a lot of guys can step up and if they can see and understand that then it'll help our team better. We'll just have to see how it goes with the guys who step up."

Veteran center Travis Swanson has had to step up and fill in because of injury before. It's the nature of playing in the NFL, and Swanson says the guys in the offensive line room have a good attitude about it.

"It's unfortunate what happened," Swanson said. "Taylor is still going to be around, we just have to have that next-man-up mentality until he's ready."

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