Lions' Decker focused on line's issues, not Elliott's success

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 — No school has produced a more dynamic rookie class this season than Ohio State. The group includes seven players selected in the first two rounds who are starting for their teams. At the top of the list is Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, the front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year and a legitimate candidate for MVP.

Elliott is closing in on 2,000 yards from scrimmage and leads the NFL with 1,551 rushing yards. He’s also among the league leaders with 14 touchdowns.
Detroit Lions offensive lineman Taylor Decker is another former Buckeye who is making an impact as a rookie. A day-one starter at left tackle, he’s exceeded early expectations as both a run blocker and pass protector, bringing some much-needed stability to the Lions’ line.

Decker knows Elliott well, helping pave the way for back-to-back 1,800-yard campaigns at Ohio State the past two years. The offensive lineman considers his former teammate a good friend, and is happy for his success in Dallas, but that’s about all he wants to say on the matter with the two set to be on opposite sidelines this Monday night.

“I’m more worried about what I’ve got going on,” Decker said. “He’s a really good friend of mine — loved him in college, loved blocking for him, he’s a great person. He’s doing really well and I’m happy for him, but I don’t want to sit here and answer questions about a running back when I play offensive line and we’re worried about their defense.”

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The Lions’ offensive line is coming off a disappointing performance in a loss to the Giants last weekend. The group particularly struggled to help establish the run as the team’s backs combined for 43 yards on 17 carries.

“When we get out there, we just have to do what we’re coached to do,” Decker said. “When you get out there, you can’t do something rogue, do something crazy. It’s all correctable things, but we have to execute better.”

Decker declined to elaborate on what he meant by going rogue, saying only he didn’t play well enough.

“There were things I know I can do better and I will do better in the future,” he said.

Twitter: @justin_rogers