Lions’ offensive line still taking shape

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Allen Park — With right guard Larry Warford’s return to the starting lineup in Sunday’s game against the Vikings, the Lions’ offensive line looked to be getting back to full strength.

And when right tackle LaAdrian Waddle was listed on the active game roster, the thought was that he might be ready to return as well. But Waddle — who hasn’t played this season as he recovers from an ACL injury from last season and elbow issues — didn’t see any game action Sunday in the Lions’ 26-16 loss.

Instead, Cornelius Lucas got his second straight start — and was less than stellar — as the Lions managed just 38 rushing yards and quarterback Matthew Stafford was battered.

Waddle, in his second season, would appear to be the better option to start if healthy, but coach Jim Caldwell said it was his choice.

“I’m not going to go into all the details. I think it’s probably enough to say it’s a coach’s decision,” Caldwell said Monday at his weekly news conference.

Caldwell on Stafford's availability: 'We'll see'

The Lions played 78 offensive snaps Sunday, 23 more than last week in the loss to the Chargers. When asked if the Waddle would be healthy enough to start or to play in 70 plays, Caldwell responded simply: “We’ll see.”

Of the Lions’ 38 rushing yards, 20 came from Stafford, on scramble plays.

Caldwell, though, didn’t point the finger at the offensive line for the breakdowns. Stafford calls the initial protections for the plays, but they have to go out and execute the blocks.

“Protection is not just one phase. The phases are routes being run at the right depth, making sure that the timing is good, protection with the linemen, backs and tight ends and the call being made,” Caldwell said. “It’s all got to work together. Everybody’s got a hand in it.”

Caldwell didn’t project whether Lucas would start again on Sunday night in the home opener against the Broncos.