The Duke football team saw something it hadn't seen in years when it traveled to FedEx Field, in Landover, Md., to see Lions rookie guard Laken Tomlinson, as well as a couple other former Blue Devils on Washington's team Thursday night.
In 2013 and 2014, Tomlinson didn't allow a sack in pass protection as Duke's right guard, but early in the second quarter, Washington defensive end Ricky Jean Francois ran around Tomlinson to take down quarterback Dan Orlovsky.
"I went out there just trying to do my job, but I got beat on that play," Tomlinson said. "It's a learning experience for me, and it's a chance to use that to get better."
According to Lions coach Jim Caldwell, Tomlinson likely will have many more learning opportunities.
"This is the big leagues," he said. "I'm not certain that there's been a guy in this league — at least I'm not aware of — that hasn't given up a sack or given up some early because of the fact that he's learning. (It's) a little different type of guy that he's lined up against; it's a great learning experience to see whether or not they can adjust."
Lions right guard Larry Warford, a third-round pick in 2013, didn’t allow a sack as a rookie, so there’s a chance Tomlinson continues that streak for a third year in a row.
After a solid performance in the first exhibition last week, Tomlinson wasn’t quite as strong Thursday, but he’s still on track to be the starting left guard ahead of Manny Ramirez if he continues to progress. And after the odd feeling of giving up a sack, Tomlinson said his only thought was “next play.”
“He’ll face a guy this next week,” Caldwell said, “that’ll be just as good, just as tough, just as fast, just as strong as he is. In college, sometimes you have those advantages. In this league, you have none of those advantages.”
Rookie cornerback Alex Carter (ankle) participated briefly with the scout team during practice, though the plays weren't at full speed. The third-round pick is close to participating in a full practice for the first time this summer, Caldwell said.