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NOTEBOOK: Decker ruled out for Lions-49ers

The Lions will be without starting left tackle Taylor Decker for Sunday's regular-season opener vs. San Francisco on Sunday.

"(Decker) had a hand injury early in the week and it looks like he's going to be down for a little bit," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said Friday. "We'll adjust from there and move forward."

Decker hurt the hand, which Campbell later said is more of a finger injury, during Wednesday's practice. He was doing a pass-protection rep and threw an arm punch on a defender when the injury took place.

"He'll be with the doctor this afternoon, and we'll know, but I would say it doesn't look real good for this weekend," Campbell said.

Campbell also said it's leaning towards surgery being an option for Decker, but they'll know more after the doctor visit.

The team has options to fill Decker's spot at left tackle. They could move rookie first-round pick Penei Sewell from right tackle to left tackle and put swing tackle Matt Nelson at right tackle. They could also just start Nelson at left tackle. The other option would be to move former tackle turned guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai back to one of the tackle spots and start second-year player Logan Stenberg at guard.

Asked specifically about Sewell potentially moving over, Campbell said: "It's that fine balance between who do you feel like is best to move to the left side versus he's a rookie and he's getting better on the right side and let's keep him there knowing Decker will be back in a little bit. That's kind of the balance we're playing with."

However it plays out, it's certainly not an ideal situation with the 49ers' star edge rusher Nick Bosa lining up across from the left tackle on most snaps.


We'll have to wait until Sunday to see what the Lions decide to do at left tackle to replace Decker, but Sewell said after Friday's practice he's been primarily taking reps at left tackle the last two days.

"I played it (left tackle) in college so there's a little familiarity there," Sewell said. "Wherever I'm at, that's where I'm at, and I just know I'm going to give it all my heart and all my passion out there."

Nelson played a key role in two contests last year, filling in at right tackle against Chicago Week 13, and then getting the start at right tackle the following week against Green Bay. Those are two pretty good defensive fronts, and Nelson played pretty well.

"Right and left (tackle) is just kind of like playing defense in college," said Nelson, the converted college defensive tackle. "It's kind of just like, 'OK, I'm right side today, left side today.' Each series you have to switch your brain a little bit and get your feet right and then off you go."

We know Sewell will have a big role Sunday either way, and Nelson said he feels good about where he is as a player and has a ton of confidence he'll come in and play well if asked to do so.


Tackling is always one of those things that's a little iffy for defenses to begin the season just because teams don't do much of it in training camp practices, and starters typically don't play a lot in the preseason.

Lions defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant said Friday he's been preaching tackling to his players in the secondary all week.

"I think their receiving corps is an extension of their run game," Pleasant said of the 49ers pass catchers. "I think they work hand in hand. They're also very good as far as yards after contact and yards after catch. We have to do a hell of a job in the secondary tackling this Sunday."

San Francisco pass catchers ranked third in the NFL in yards after the catch last season. They were sixth in 2019 and third in 2018.

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