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NOTEBOOK: How the offensive line performed

The Lions' offensive line is still very much a work in progress three weeks into training camp and one preseason game in the books.

Rookie Taylor Decker is still adjusting to life in the NFL, and Riley Reiff is playing a new spot at right tackle.

That unit played one series together Friday night in Pittsburgh to mixed results in Detroit's 30-17 win.

First the good: The first-team offense was able to move the ball down the field in 13 plays, going from their own 10-yard line to the Steelers 17. In the process, they converted three third downs.

The bad: Matthew Stafford was nailed twice by virtually free pass rushers. And the last two plays of the drive were a 10-yard holding penalty on Decker and a strip-sack by Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who got around Decker, giving the ball to the Steelers with no points for the Lions on the board.

"We got a little leaky from time to time, but we'll take a look at it," head coach Jim Caldwell said after the game.

Caldwell usually reserves full judgment on a position group or an individual player's performance until he can review the film.

The offensive line is by no means a finished product. There's still a month of work to go in training camp, and even then it's still always evolving as players get more comfortable with one another.

For Week 1 of the preseason, the quick analysis is that Stafford took too many shots. He was sacked 44 times last year and that number has to improve significantly.

Friday night showed that there's still a lot of work to be done in that department.


Earlier this week in Detroit's first joint practice with the Steelers, the Lions' first-team offense had a long 16-play drive methodically moving down the field and converting three third downs on their way to a touchdown.

They did the same thing their first possesion in Friday's preseason game. They marched 13 plays down the field and converted three third downs before eventually fumbling it away deep in Steelers' territory.

While those long, methodical drives are nice, Caldwell knows that statistically speaking, it's hard to drive the ball down the field with any real consistency in this league. There has to be some big plays mixed in there too.

"It's early yet but typically when you look at it statistically, they usually have to have a 20 to 25-yard play in every drive that's successful and ends with a touchdown," Caldwell said.

"So some way or another, one way or another we've got to make certain we find those. We had a couple pretty good plays, pretty explosive plays. Had an opportunity for one or two that we dropped, but yeah, that's certainly an aspect that we've got to continue to work on."

The Lions recorded four plays of 20-plus yards in the game, two of which were touchdown passes to Andre Roberts (28) and Jace Billingsley (27). 

With Calvin Johnson no longer in the fold, the Lions are still working out who their big playmakers will be.


One of the biggest things in the preseason is to come out of the game healthy. For the most part that was the case Friday, except for linebacker Zaviar Gooden suffering a head injury.

Gooden took a blow from a fellow teammate making a tackle in the second half and was evaluated for a head injury. There was no update on his status after the game.


The Lions held a number of players out of the first preseason game. Among them were: running back Ameer Abdullah, tight end Eric Ebron, linebacker Jon Bostic, wide receiver Andre Caldwell, defensive end Ziggy Ansah, cornerback Darius Slay and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

Taking the place of Ansah, Ngata and Slay with the first-team defense were: Wallace Gilberry, Caruan Reid and Johnson Bademosi, respectively. It could be a quick glance into the current depth chart at those spots.

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