With first-overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft Myles Garrett coming to town this week, a lot of focus is on the Detroit Lions’ left tackle situation. Greg Robinson returned to practice this week and Brian Mihalik is coming off a solid performance against the Packers, so there’s a bit of uncertainty surrounding who will start on Sunday.
However, the x-factor here is starter Taylor Decker, who has been on the Physically Unable to Perform list since undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason. Decker returned to practice last week and is eligible to come off the list at any time.
On Friday, head coach Jim Caldwell was asked if there is any possibility that Decker is activated on Saturday, making him eligible to play against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Caldwell was uncommitting, but did provide some slight optimism in a pure Caldwell-esque way.
Jim Caldwell says Taylor Decker is "close." That's as close as he's come to giving a definitive health update.— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) November 10, 2017
But Caldwell wouldn’t comment on whether activating him on Saturday is in their plans. “We’ll see,” Caldwell responded.
For what it’s worth, there does seem to be a lot of hope that Decker will be in the lineup this week. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press has been especially optimistic about Decker’s chances, saying early in the week that “chances are pretty good” of a Decker return against the Browns. He reiterated that point on Friday during his weekly online chat, saying “I do think it's a real possibility they activate him on Saturday.”
There are no clear indications on who would start in Decker’s place if he doesn’t return, but the most likely candidate appears to be Mihalik, who has started the past two games at left tackle. The team has only allowed three sacks over that period.
UPDATE: The Lions have waived-injured Greg Robinson, which seems like an awfully good sign for Decker’s return.