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Taylor Decker’s return to Lions practice ‘could be soon’

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A first sign of optimism regarding Taylor Decker’s return to the lineup comes from the Detroit Free Press.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since the season started, one of the most anticipated moments for the Detroit Lions’ 2017 season has been the return of franchise left tackle Taylor Decker, who tore his labrum way back in June. Because of how much the offensive line has struggled in the first six games without him, fans are getting antsy to see Decker back in the lineup, especially now that he’s finally eligible to return from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

Unfortunately, the team has been completely mum on the injury and has refused to give any specific timetable for a return. Jim Caldwell confirmed last month that Decker was making good progress towards a mid-season return, but remained very vague about the situation.

While punter Sam Martin returned to practice from the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list this week, Decker remains on PUP and out of practice.

But Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press offered up some much-needed optimism regarding Decker’s situation. Birkett, who sees Decker in the locker room every week, said of Decker’s return, “Judging by the intensity of his workouts, and the range of motion he's shown doing simple tasks in the locker room, it could be soon.”

Birkett went on to say that the Lions have hoped for an early November return. That would make a lot of sense for Decker, as he will likely have to practice for at least a week or two to be ready for actual gameplay.

As Birkett pointed out, even if Decker was ready to return this week, there would have been little point in doing so. Detroit only had one light practice this week, and when the Lions do bring Decker back, they will only have three weeks to decide whether to activate him or place him on injured reserve. If he’s nearing a return, it makes sense to wait until a full week of practice to bring him back.

So while Birkett admits it’s unlikely that Decker will play in the first game back from the bye against the Steelers, it certainly seems like we may see him back in practice very soon. And that can’t come soon enough considering Decker’s replacement, Greg Robinson, has not only played poorly, but is dealing with an ankle injury of his own.