Allen Park — Almost every road game is a homecoming for someone on the Detroit Lions’ roster. This week, it’s Rick Wagner’s turn. The offensive tackle is making his first trip back to Baltimore, the team that drafted in 2013 and developed him for four seasons.
“It’s kind of an odd experience,” Wagner said. “I’m excited to get back there and see some of my former teammates. But once the first ball is snapped, it’s all business.”
The soft-spoken right tackle said he keeps in touch with former teammates. That includes Ravens center Ryan Jensen, who he roomed with for multiple years.
“He had everything that he owned in a duffle bag,” Jensen told Baltimore reporters this week. “That’s just the way Rick was — he didn’t have a lot of stuff. We always joked around that if he ever had to move somewhere, all he had to do was pack a duffle bag and he had all his stuff.”
Wagner might be able to live out of a duffle bag, but the Lions signed him to a lucrative five-year contract in free agency for his full tool box of skills.
“He’s been great,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “He’s a really steady personality. He’s a guy that shows up every week ready to play. He’s brought a whole bunch of experience, physicality and veteran savvy to our offensive line.”
And while Wagner hasn’t been at the top of his game all season, hampered at times by ankle and shoulder injuries, he’s arguably been the team’s most consistent lineman this season.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re 100 percent,” Wagner said. “You’re rarely going to be 100 percent, so just got to fight through.
“I’ve been a little up and down. I think I need to become more consistent. That’s the goal of O-linemen is to be consistent, be the same guy every single week. We have another month left, at least, so I’ve got some time to keep improving.”
Wagner will serve as one of the Lions’ four captains on Sunday.