Skip to main content

NOTEBOOK: Lions have all 5 starters on o-line at practice Wednesday

The offensive line was back to full strength at Lions practice Wednesday.

After sitting out Tuesday's walkthrough with a back injury, veteran left tackle Taylor Decker was back on the practice field Wednesday. Center Frank Ragnow, who missed the game in Chicago Sunday with a knee injury, practiced for a second consecutive day. Right tackle Penei Sewell, left guard Jonah Jackson and right guard Graham Glasgow were present as well, which is a great sign the Lions are trending toward having their top five offensive linemen available.

That is obviously a positive development for a Lions' offense that's dealt with injuries and some inconsistencies in pass protection over the last month. Those have contributed to an uptick in turnovers.

Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson talked Wednesday about the challenge as a play-caller having so many different offensive line variations this season.

"I would be lying to you if I said I don't think about those things. I think you have to when you're calling plays," he said. "If you're a little bit nervous about so-and-so's matchup on so-and-so going into the week and then maybe somebody's struggling early in the game, you just want to provide a little bit more help for them, that's something that we're always talking about, we're always thinking about.

"Shows up in the protection game certainly upfront and then in the run game too, we try to find favorable matchups and angles for our guys to execute their jobs. So, that happens on a weekly basis."

Getting all five starters back would be huge this week as the Lions try to take one step closer to their first division title in 30 years. Denver's 34 sacks on the season are middle of the pack in the NFL, but they've struggled in containing the run game. Opponents are averaging 144.0 rushing yards per game against the Broncos, the most in the NFL. Detroit has the No. 5 rushing offense in the NFL at 137.5 yards per game. That will be a key matchup come Saturday night.

"We as a group take a lot of pride in ourselves and we understand that this team kind of goes as we go," Ragnow said Wednesday. "If we're not going well, it's probably more than likely not going to be a good day and we take a lot of pride in that. We know we have to right the ship and we will."


We saw Ifeatu Melifonwu start at safety in place of Tracy Walker Sunday in Chicago. We also saw Kindle Vildor work his way into the game at the outside cornerback spot rotating with starter Jerry Jacobs.

For defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, those moves are all about trying to find the right combinations to get the backend of his defense playing better football down the stretch.

"The thing is, man, we've got to do everything we can to play at a high level and we're going to continue to find the guy that's going to do that for us," Glenn said.

A big piece could be back later this month as safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson could return from a torn pectoral muscle at the end of the month or early January, head coach Dan Campbell said this week.

View photos of the starters for the Denver Broncos.


Campbell considers Broncos head coach Sean Payton one of his biggest mentors, and knowing Payton the way he does, he knows Payton's competitive spirit will be high this week.

"We better be on our stuff because he's going to come here to try to embarrass us," Campbell said this week.

Campbell spent five seasons as Payton's assistant head coach in New Orleans.

Linebacker Alex Anzalone played under Payton in New Orleans, so he knows Payton well too, and he echoed Campbell's feeling about Saturday night's matchup at Ford Field.

"I know that Sean's probably trying to come here and put 50 up on us," Anzalone said. "That's what we have to be ready (for). That's just how he is, just because of all the personal connections."

But that also goes both ways, according to Anzalone.

"I know for me, you have a different type of approach to these types of games," he said. "Just because you know someone personally. It definitely, probably brings a little more of an edge to how you go about your week."

Related Content