Ups and downs of Lions’ Decker, Tomlinson ‘expected’
Allen Park – The Lions’ offensive line has had its share of highs and lows, particularly along the left side.
In Sunday’s 34-27 loss at Green Bay, rookie tackle Taylor Decker and second-year guard Laken Tomlinson labored in pass and run protection, and struggled on a pair of crucial possessions as the Lions were mounting a comeback in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 34-17 and facing a second-and-10 at the Packers’ 28, Matthew Stafford completed a 13-yard pass to Eric Ebron but it was wiped out due to a holding penalty on Decker.
Two plays later on third-and-1 from the 19, Tomlinson was called for a false start. Packers linebacker Nick Perry then beat Decker to sack Stafford for an 8-yard loss, forcing the Lions to settle for a Matt Prater 50-yard field goal.
On the Lions’ next drive, Packers’ Kyler Fackrell rushed around Decker and took down Stafford for a 9-yard loss to set up a second-and-19, which the Lions weren’t able to convert and led to a punt.
“I think it was up and down, but I think there was some really good stretches of football between those two guys,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said of Decker and Tomlinson. “They’re both young guys that are playing there. I think there were times when Laken did a real good job, and I think there was some times when Decker did an excellent job, and I think there’s some times where they had some problems.
“I mean that’s expected, it’s going to happen. Was it enough to completely stall us? No. Could we still move the ball? Yes, absolutely. I think you’re going to see, particularly as Decker goes, Decker’s going to continue to get better. I think that’s the key and I think Laken will continue to get better.”
Decker and Tomlinson were both solid in the opener at Indianapolis, but Tomlinson had a pair of brutal penalties in the home opener against the Titans, including a holding call that negated a touchdown.
“Well, I think in the line of work that we’re in it’s not going to be all on the upside consistently, because it’s just not going to happen. There’s just too many good players that you see week in and week out,” Caldwell said. “They’re going to have some bad plays, but consistency is what matters. I think that those guys will get to the point where they’re functioning at a real high degree of consistency.”
Following his 205-yard performance against the Packers, Marvin Jones became the fifth receiver in Lions history to surpass 200 receiving yards in a game, joining Calvin Johnson, Cloyce Box, Richard Johnson and Roy Williams.
Jones has emerged as the clear-cut No. 1 receiver, leading the team in receiving all three games as well as the league with 408 yards and nine receptions of 20-plus yards. He said his rapport with Stafford is “clicking” but is unsure whether he expects to face more double teams or different coverages moving forward.
“That’s for (other teams) to decide,” Jones said. “I just go out there and we get our game plan and do our plays, practice our plays, get down to the nitty-gritty and do what we do. That's go out there and try to make plays regardless of how they're playing me. It doesn't really matter.”
Jones added the challenge of sustaining this level of production comes down to being consistent.
“Obviously, we have a great system that can get hot at any moment,” Jones said. “So it’s just working within the system, going out there and making the plays that I make.”