Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell quickly eased any concerns about the availability of left tackle Taylor Decker. The veteran offensive lineman missed Wednesday’s practice with a groin injury, but Campbell noted that they were simply being precautionary.
“He’s good. He’s good,” Campbell said. “He’ll be out there. We’re just being smart with him.”
That’s obviously good news for the Lions, who will need all hands on deck against the Dallas Cowboys defense, and in particular, Micah Parsons. The two-time All-Pro is currently tied for seventh in the NFL with 13.0 sacks on the season and is first in the NFL in pressures (per PFF).
With Decker on board, the Lions are expected to have their full starting lineup on the offensive line, which has been one of the best in the NFL. The Lions have only allowed 29 sacks (t-fifth fewest) and rank fourth in PFF pass blocking grade.
Campbell also provided an update on C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who is still on injured reserve, but in his second week of practice. The Lions coach was non-committal on whether they would activate Gardner-Johnson for the Dallas game this week.
“He’s even better than last week. He’s looking pretty good. It’s just another chance to get him going,” Campbell said. “Brad (Holmes) and I will talk about it after we get done today. He’ll be out there practicing again.”
Without Gardner-Johnson in the lineup, the Lions have struggled against the pass, but over the past few weeks, they’ve found some success with Ifeatu Melifonwu in the starting lineup at safety. Combined with improved play from Kerby Joseph and continued stellar play from nickel corner Brian Branch, the Lions are actually in a decent spot whether Gardner-Johnson comes back or not this week.
Campbell said they could go a number of ways with their defensive backs going forward.
“Iffy’s playing really good football, and, look, Kerby’s doing a really good job,” Campbell said. “Everybody just assumes, ‘Is it Iffy or C.J.?’ Why? Why would you assume that? So, when he comes back, we have options. We’ve got really good options. We’ve got football players, playmakers and so it’s a great problem to have.”
If Gardner-Johnson is activated for this game, expect an announcement on Saturday afternoon before their game later that night in Dallas.