Decker gets first-team reps at left tackle in OTAs
Allen Park — The competition for the left tackle spot is officially underway.
During team drills in Thursday’s organized team activities, the first such practice open to the media, rookie Taylor Decker played left tackle with the starting group while Riley Reiff was at right tackle.
Reiff has been the Lions’ starting left tackle the last three years, but has never been consistently above average at the position. He hasn’t played right tackle at all in the NFL, but clearly, the coaches want to see how their top two tackles will fit on the line.
Surely, Reiff and Decker will rotate at the spots, and general manager Bob Quinn said the plan was to put Decker in the tackle group and see which position is his best fit. Although Reiff and Decker were the starting tackles on Thursday, there’s a chance Michael Ola will receive some first-team reps when he returns from an undisclosed injury.
It’s surprising to see the Lions giving rookies immediate action with the starters, but clearly, they want to test Decker quickly.
Here are some other observations from Thursday’s OTAs:
•Lions coaches obviously want to see what third-year linebacker Kyle Van Noy can do. He was the top strong-side linebacker on Thursday, lining up with Tahir Whitehead in the middle and DeAndre Levy on the weak side.
•Wide receiver Marvin Jones is extremely fluid with his routes. He had at least one impressive one-on-one catch against cornerback Darius Slay, creating separation on a short play.
•Wide receiver Corey Fuller made a few nice plays, including catching a contested deep ball against cornerback Johnson Bademosi in one-on-ones and high-pointing a pass in seven-on-seven.
•Rookie center Graham Glasgow had a lot of work with the second- and third-team offenses, but for now, Travis Swanson remains the top center and the one working with quarterback Matthew Stafford.
•Safety Glover Quin and defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker sat out team drills. They’re both still working their way back from surgeries.
•Rafael Bush was the top strong safety during position drills, and when Quin sat out, Isaiah Johnson and Bush were the first-team safeties.
•The defensive tackles rotated for first-team drills, but rookie A’Shawn Robinson received some opportunities.
•The group of punt returns was exclusively wide receivers — Jeremy Kerley, TJ Jones, Jace Billingsley and Austin Willis. Golden Tate was absent, but will presumably be in that competition, too.
•Fifth-round pick Joe Dahl spent the day as the second-team left tackle. He has experience at both tackle and guard.
•The Lions are cross training many of their defensive linemen. Among others, end Wallace Gilberry had some reps inside, and tackle Kerry Hyder had some reps outside.
•Former Lions center Dominic Raiola was at practice and is assisting the strength and conditioning coaches this offseason.