LaAdrian Waddle remains Lions' top RT option if healthy

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
LaAdrian Waddle

Allen Park — The Lions have made it no secret they think LaAdrian Waddle is their best option at right tackle this season, even if they're confident in Cornelius Lucas, too.

"He's got more experience," offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said Thursday. "He's been the starter and when he's started, he's played excellent. We really think highly of him."

Waddle missed nearly all of the offseason as he recovered from January knee surgery to repair a partially-torn anterior cruciate ligament. The Lions activated Waddle from the physically unable to perform list on Aug. 23, and even though he's been practicing, he's been limited.

Waddle said coaches have been increasing his workload in team drills since his return, but in addition to the knee injury, he's currently dealing with an elbow injury that limited him in practice Wednesday, though he still hopes to play Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.

"I'm feeling good," he said. "We're going to kind of see how practice goes this week, and if things go good and we feel good about going, then we'll go."

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In order to play, Waddle said he thinks he has to show he can handle anything he'd do in a game, including coming off the ball quickly, anchoring his body and moving his feet at a high level.

Lucas said he'd like the opportunity to be a Week 1 starter in just his second year, but his team-first attitude helps him understand why he'd be a backup if Waddle can play. Waddle's absence this offseason, though, gave Lucas more opportunities to prepare as if he's the starter.

An undrafted rookie last year, Lucas started four games, including the playoff loss to the Cowboys, but struggled with some of the adjustment to right tackle after playing on the left side at Kansas State. This year, he was the first-team right tackle for nearly every practice.

"It's allowed me to finesse my position," he said. "Last year, I was learning the position. This year, I'm kind of finessing it, critiquing it, perfecting it and putting my touch on it."