As soon as Cyrus Kouandjio and Greg Robinson were added by the Detroit Lions, it was assumed that the two would battle it out for the left tackle position vacated by an injured Taylor Decker. If Kouandjio and Robinson failed to pick up the slack, surely Cornelius Lucas or Corey Robinson would step up the plate and assume the duties.
But during Monday’s training camp practice, a new challenger emerged from the pack. Undrafted free agent Storm Norton was seen taking first-team reps on several occasions during the Lions’ first open practice of the year.
Storm Norton taking first-team reps at left tackle. That's unexpected.— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) July 31, 2017
Your first team LT is ... Storm Norton?— Alex Reno (@alex_reno) July 31, 2017
Norton split first-team reps with Kouandjio, who was exclusively with the first team on Sunday.
Norton stands tall at a massive 6-foot-8, 306 pounds, but he wasn’t expected to make much of an impact as an undrafted rookie. Having played college ball in Toledo, he didn’t play out of the typical NFL three-point stance, but rather a two-point stance as part of the Rockets’ high-octane offense. That being said, he was a two-year starter at left tackle in college and has all the physical tools that could translate into a professional career.
Norton wasn’t the only surprising contender for the left tackle spot. Nick Becton, who was just signed on Monday, even got some reps with the second-team offense. Greg Robinson, who sat out of team drills on Sunday, joined the second team during offensive team drills, but was sidelined when they faced off against the defense.
The Lions could be shuffling all of these players just to make sure they’re getting a good look at each contender. The Lions may also just be playing it safe with Robinson and Kouandjio, who both spent time on the Non-Football Injury list before training camp started.
Though head coach Jim Caldwell wouldn’t directly say that Norton was with the first team because of injuries, he sure did seem to imply it. When asked why Norton was getting first-team reps, Caldwell said, “You can’t make a whole lot out of what you see sometimes, because of injuries and where we are.”
However, Caldwell did admit he liked what he has seen from Norton thus far. “He’s smart, he works at it, he’s getting better,” Caldwell said.
Either way, the Lions left tackle competition just got a little more interesting.