Penei Sewell is coming off arguably his best game as a Detroit Lion after a tremendous performance in Sunday's 28-19 loss against the Los Angeles Rams. Sewell didn't allow a sack or quarterback hit, and was credited with just two hurries allowed against one of the top defensive fronts in football.
The highlight for Sewell in Los Angeles Sunday may have been him stonewalling the best defensive player in football and then going toe-to-toe with him after the play.
On a 2nd and 15 run play midway through the second quarter, Sewell latched on to Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and never let go, pushing the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year back two yards. Sewell still had Donald firmly clutched in his grasp when the whistle blew, and Donald seemed to take a little offense to that. Donald took a swipe at Sewell, then pushed him and grabbed his facemask. He had some words for the rookie.
Sewell wasn't having it though. He jawed right back at the three-time defensive MVP and grabbed Donald's facemask as the two had to be separated by teammates.
One of those players that helped separate Sewell and Donald was Lions veteran right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai.
"Let him get a taste of what the NFL is like," Vaitai said with a laugh Monday, when asked about the tussle between Sewell and Donald. "It's good for the young buck to make a name for himself, especially vs. Aaron Donald. It was fun."
Asked about it Wednesday, Sewell tried to downplay the incident.
"To be honest, I don't know (what happened)," he said. "It was just probably emotions were high in the moment. So I would say that's it."
Sewell, the Lions' first-round draft pick (No. 7 overall) this year, is one of many young players on the roster with a bright future.
He moved from right tackle to left tackle a few days before the season started after training on the right side all offseason and training camp because of the finger injury suffered by left tackle Taylor Decker. Sewell was terrific Week 1 vs. San Francisco and talented edge rusher Nick Bosa, and that's been the norm most of the season.
Sewell had a little stretch Weeks 4 and 5 vs. Chicago and Minnesota where he allowed three sacks, a couple of those leading to strip sacks and fumbles, but Sewell's bounced back nicely the last two weeks, with no sacks allowed, just one QB hit and three total pressures.
Sewell said it was a sickening feeling seeing the quarterback on the ground through that rough stretch.
It's a big credit to Sewell, who recently turned 21-years-old, that he's learned from some early mistakes. He said he went back and fixed some little details with his eyes and hands, and had to focus on slowing his feet a bit.
"Week 8 now, learned a lot just because of the o-line room that I have," Sewell said this week. "Everybody's experienced. Everybody's seen most of the rushers that are in the league right now. And the one thing I could really lock into, that I've been working on and still continuing to work on, is my hands and being really precise with them.
"When I say that, sometimes mediocre hand placement could get the job done. But in this league, you got to be real precise. You got to lock in on that and then just go from there."
Sewell's been terrific the last two weeks and pretty darn good overall through the team's first seven games. The Lions will need another great effort from their talented rookie left tackle this week against a really good Philadelphia front.