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O'HARA'S FINAL THOUGHTS: Sewell living out his NFL dream

Is it possible for a rookie who was a college star and a first-round draft pick playing for a Detroit Lions team that has won one game to be living out a dream?

The answer is a resounding "yes," spoken without hesitation by the player himself.

Offensive tackle Penei Sewell is living out his dream on a Lions team that has one win, one tie and 11 losses going into today's game against the Arizona Cardinals at Ford Field.

"The ups, the downs -- everything about it is everything I dreamed of and more," Sewell said. "I'm just really having fun out here with this locker room, getting to know each and every one of them and their background stories.

"I want to go back to motivation. It creates that fire in me to give more and more. I just try to do my part."

Drafted seventh overall out of Oregon, Sewell quickly smoothed over the bumps that confront rookie tackles making the jump from college to the NFL to rise steadily in performance and stature.

Sewell's pro debut was made more difficult by having to switch from right tackle, where he had practiced all offseason and through training camp and the preseason, to left tackle because of a hand injury sustained by veteran Taylor Decker before the opening game.

Sewell started the first eight games at left tackle – his position at Oregon – and moved back to right tackle for the last five.

"Going back and forth helped me stay motivated," he said earlier in the week. "At the end of the day, I had fun with it. I'm going to do it, and that's what the team asked me to do."

He was asked if he takes pride in winning matchups with some of the NFL's top pass rushers.

"There's no pride in kind of locking up the person or the name across from me," Sewell said. "The pride is knowing that Jared's clean, and everybody else on that line and everybody else in this locker room trusts me to do my job to the best of my ability.

"That's where the motivation comes from."

Quarterback Jared Goff, the man Sewell keeps clean, was asked what makes Sewell special.

"A lot of stuff," Goff said. "He's obviously extremely physical and strong. But his speed and his agility to kind of work his way through the hole or get up to a linebacker at times, makes him special."

Random Thoughts:

Lonely cornerback: At one time during the practice week, five cornerbacks and two safeties were not at practice because of COVID-19 protocols.

What was it like for starting cornerback Amani Oruwariye to practice with so many familiar faces missing?

"Different," he said. "You have to make sure you know that you know. You're not out there with guys you've been out there with the whole time. It's definitely weird."

Kyler Murray admirers: Goff and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn are both in the large group that thinks Murray is a special talent.

"As special as it gets," said Goff, who faced the Cardinals twice a year when he played for the Rams. "He can do things that not many humans can."

Glenn has to devise a scheme to keep Murray relatively in check.

"Try to keep him in a cage and make him throw through a forest," Glenn said. "Not through a highway."

On the run: The Lions have built a respectable running attack, and it has shown in the last five games that it can be the foundation of the rebuilding project.

"When we can run the ball for four quarters, we can run the ball on anyone," offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said. "I felt that way from day one. We don't always have a starter. Our backups have come in. They've done a heck of a job."

The carries have been spread around, as follows: 33 for 130 yards vs. the Steelers, and 14 for 136 vs. the Browns for D'Andre Swift; 15 for 65 yards vs. the Bears and 17 for 71 vs. the Vikings for Jamaal Williams; and 11 for 83 yards for Craig Reynolds in his first pro game vs. the Broncos.

Bottom line: The Lions are getting production from a running attack, not just one running back. That's a sign of a good offensive line that helps execute a game plan.

Catching on: It might cause some hearts to skip a beat, but Kalif Raymond said he catches the ball against his chest and drops to his knees to secure it when he makes a fair catch on punts. Whatever works.

Lions-Cardinals breakdown: Even at full strength this would be a tough matchup for the Lions. But they're barely at half strength. Realistically, there's too much for the Lions to overcome to do more than keep it close, no matter how hard they compete, which I'm sure they'll do.

Pick: Cardinals 28, Lions 13.

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