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Lions OT Decker says he can 'handle adversity better'

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
T Taylor Decker - The rookie played every snap at left tackle and showed steady improvement after some early struggles. His 4.5 sacks allowed and six penalties mirror Riley Reiff’s 2015 figures. GRADE: B+

Allen Park – For the first three quarters against the Green Bay Packers, Taylor Decker continued to build on the impressive start to his rookie season. The Detroit Lions offensive tackle was largely assignment sound as both a pass protector and run blocker.

But in the fourth quarter, the inconsistencies you’d expect from a first-year player handling one of the most challenging positions in football showed up for the first time.

The problem, in this instance, is Decker had three negative plays during a short stretch, when the Lions were trying to orchestrate a comeback. He appeared to struggle shaking off a mistake, instead allowing the issues to compound.

“You always used to say about guys that play in the secondary, they have to be a riverboat gambler with a short memory,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “I think in terms of the offensive line, the short memory is also appropriate when you talk about those guys.”

First it was a holding call, where Decker got his arm around the back of the Packers’ pass-rusher and tossed him to the ground. Then a pair of sacks, a few plays a part, where the defenders got their hands into the chest of the young lineman, establishing control on their way to dropping quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Decker has reviewed the film, identified his issues and is committed to getting it quickly corrected.

“I had a couple plays there at the end of the game where I had a technical breakdown,” Decker said. “It’s something, this week, where I am going to focus heavily on it in practice. It’s something that’s fixable, which is the big thing. It’s not an issue where we’re like, ‘Well, we don’t know what to do.’ It’s something that can be fixed and will be fixed.”

When Decker gave up the sacks, he showed visible frustration. Playing with emotion is something Lions fans should get used to seeing. He’s not stoic, unlike the two Lions players who manned the blindside before him, Riley Reiff and Jeff Backus.

“I care about what I do,” he said. “It’s important to me. You’re probably going to see some emotion, but it’s something where I need to move on from it. I care about what I do, so I’m going to be upset and happy about things. That’s just how I am.”

Decker said it’s important his on-field issues don’t snowball, becoming something that carries over to future games. He also admits he wasn’t able to shake the errors against Green Bay the way he should have.

“That was a mistake on my part to not lock back in,” Decker said. “It’s the first time it’s happened to me in this league. I know I can handle adversity better. Typically I do. This was a new experience for me and I need to learn from it, grow from it and be better for it.”

Caldwell remains confident that won’t be an issue for the team’s first-round draft pick.

“That guy’s going to be a good player,” Caldwell said. “Now, how long it takes him to get to where he’s really good and consistent week in and week out? It doesn’t mean he’s not going to get beat sometimes, but he’s the least of my worries. He’ll work at it, he’s competitive, but he’s going to see a variety of different styles week in and week out and some guys are going to give him problems. He’s got to learn, but he’ll be fine.”

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

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