In each of the past two weeks, Detroit Lions rookie offensive tackle Penei Sewell has been the highest-graded player on the team’s offense according to PFF. A nice rebound after a tough couple weeks. Sewell now appears to be settling in nicely to his spot at left tackle, even if it appears he’ll likely be sliding over back to the right side if/when Taylor Decker returns.
But Sewell’s most noteworthy moment in Sunday’s performance against the Los Angeles Rams had nothing to do with his blocking skills. No, it came in the second quarter after D’Andre Swift picked up a mere 1 yard on a rush.
Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald was lined up directly opposite Sewell, and the rookie tackle handled him nicely, driving him back a yard, and sealing him off away from the play. As the whistles blew, Sewell continues his firm grasp of Donald’s shoulder pads, as the Rams defender took a couple of swings at Sewell’s face, trying to intimidate the 21-year-old lineman. Sewell didn’t back down, though, continuing to hold him, while chirping right back.
Things escalated from there. Sewell finally let go, but Donald gave him a shove. Donald grabbed Sewell by the facemask, and the rookie responded by grabbing Donald’s and giving him a shove.
The scrum ended without incident, but the scuffle certainly earned Sewell some respect points.
“Ooh, Penei Sewell not backing down,” FOX color commentator Mark Sanchez said during the broadcast.
Sewell also gained some respect from his teammate, veteran offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai.
“It was good for the young buck to make a name for himself, especially versus Aaron Donald,” Vaitai said with a laugh on Monday.
While that moment caught the most attention on social media, Sewell has been showing that kind of confidence and swagger since landing in Detroit. And oftentimes, he simply does it with his play. Take, for example, the very first highlight in this compilation of good plays from Sewell on Sunday:
Sewell still has some things to clean up with his set points & hands on an island (Lewis got him with a filthy cross-chop), but he is consistently showing a lot of what made him a special prospect & did again in Week 7. pic.twitter.com/EF94VIjqAG— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 25, 2021
On the first play following the Lions’ second fake punt, Sewell, again, seals off the rushing lane, but he’s not done. He put the Rams outside linebacker into the ground, gives him a shove on the back, and then does his best Allen Iverson disrespectful stepover. You can see Sewell lift his head into the air, and you just know he’s screaming something out.
Of course, this has been Penei Sewell since training camp. If you attended a single practice, you probably noticed Sewell’s energy, whether he was hyping up his teammates, yelling in victory, or just running around with a huge smile on his face.
During one of the first practices of camp, Sewell won his rep and let out a roar. After practice, Sewell told the media that’s who he is and who he will continue to be.
“I’ll bring the juice each and every day,” Sewell said “That’s just who I am. Leave it at that. More juice, all that. You will see and feel me out there.”
On Sunday, Sewell was undoubtedly seen and felt.