When Detroit Lions left tackle Taylor Decker got rolled up on, early in the second quarter of the team’s season opener in Kansas City, he knew it was a serious injury. The injury—a high ankle sprain combined with a bone bruise—was an especially painful one, but not one that was going to sideline him in the middle of the team’s nationally televised debut.
“At that point, it’s like, ‘I’m already here. I’m going to help my team win. Hey Jonah (Jackson), I might need you to help me a little bit here and there. I’m hobbling around a little bit,’” Decker recalled to the media on Monday. “But I played it off well. I guess no one really even noticed it until after the game, so I just didn’t want to have to come out of the game.”
During the game, the medical staff said many players can play through the injury on the day of, but the next day, it’s probably going to swell up and require plenty of treatment and rehab. That’s exactly what happened, and Decker has been working—impatiently at times—to get his way back into the field.
“I told the doctor and I told (Director of player health and performance) Brett (Fischer) and I told (head trainer) Mike (Sundeen), ‘If you guys leave it up to me, I’ll play this next week,’” Decker said. “And they’re like, ‘You just can’t. You’re in a walking boot. It’s going to be stupid. You’re going to turn a couple week thing into a season-long thing if you do something like that.’ At that point, it’s just frustrating. You just trust the staff and the plan that’s put out in front of you.”
Decker has missed the past two weeks, leaving Penei Sewell to shift to left tackle and a carousel of Matt Nelson, Dan Skipper, and Colby Sorsdal to play at right tackle. With Nelson headed to injured reserve with a serious ankle injury, the Lions need Decker more than ever. And based on what the Lions starting left tackle was saying on Monday night, it sure sounds like they’re going to get him.
“It’s going to hurt, but as long as I can be functional, I can deal with the pain,” Decker said. “I’ve done it plenty of times before. I’m confident I can go out there and help us win, so it’ll be fun being back out there with everybody. Big thing is just, the days leading up to the game, just make sure it’s feeling as best as it can, and just go out there. You’re going to have the adrenaline pumping and I’m sure it’ll feel even better than it did today.”