Detroit Lions rookie Penei Sewell has recently been a source of anxiety for fans. The 2021 seventh overall pick has struggled in the preseason, allowing sacks in back-to-back games and earning the team’s lowest PFF grade in both contests, as well. While it’s far too early to have any real concern for Sewell’s future, it’s also not exactly reassuring to see the team’s first-round selection go through some early growing pains.
But Lions left tackle Taylor Decker isn’t having any of that. Decker has seen plenty of the Lions rookie right tackle to believe he’s going to be just fine.
“Sometimes you get big, physical athletes who can’t pick up the playbook, but he can do both,” Decker said on Monday. “He’s a smart guy and he’s a big, physical athlete. He wants to be good. You can tell he wants to be good, and he’s going to be good. He’s going to be a really good player for us.”
As for the struggles, Decker pointed to two things: the fact that the kid hasn’t played in two years and his transition from left tackle to right. While Decker hasn’t gone through a transformation like that since his sophomore year at Ohio State back in 2014 (moving from right tackle to left), he certainly understands the difficulty.
“(It’s) just body mechanics,” Decker said. “I have so many imbalances in my body just from being in a left stance for the last eight, nine years, and your body just gets used to that. Different things with your shoulders, different things with your hip, your back.”
Decker is far from the only NFL offensive lineman trying to stress just how tough of a transition that can be. Several have come out of the woodwork to defend Sewell, explaining just how hard it is to flip your mechanics completely.
“There’s a ton of muscle memory involved with playing OL,” former nine-year NFL veteran George Foster tweeted this weekend. “You do the same movements over and over. Most guys are gonna take a good while, before they can pass set the same at the opposite side as they did on their primary side. Your feet and hands are in reverse. It’s HARD.”
Like Foster says, Decker believes it’s just a matter of time Sewell catches on. The key? Just getting more reps.
“He’s going to need a lot of reps, and he’s getting them,” Decker said. “That’s why he got a lot of preseason reps, to be able to practice, see different guys, get those repetitions in, and he’s the type of athlete that will be just fine. And, luckily, he’s young and limber. He’s not 32 years old like me. He’s going to do good.”
(Note: Decker is 28, he’s joking.)
And once he gets those reps in, gets that muscle memory flipped and his footwork right, Decker believes he’ll be scary.
“There’s a Bruce Lee quote: ‘I fear not the man who’s practiced 10,000 kicks once, but one kick 10,000 times.’”