Lions must navigate injuries, suspensions on lines
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions are having their depth tested on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
The Lions are beginning training camp with high hopes after making the playoffs a season ago, but they already have their share of issues on the offensive and defensive lines. Offensive tackle Taylor Decker had offseason shoulder surgery, and defensive linemen Armonty Bryant and Khyri Thornton will be suspended to start the regular season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Bryant was suspended four games and Thornton six. Coach Jim Caldwell acknowledged Saturday that the Lions would have to account for their absences when preparing for the season.
“You have to look at those things and make adjustments, which we certainly have talked about and will do,” Caldwell said.
The Lions had their first practice Sunday. Thornton participated, while Bryant and Decker were on the physically unable to perform list. Also on the PUP list was defensive end Ziggy Ansah.
Detroit made some additions to both lines via free agency, signing guard T.J. Lang, tackle Rick Wagner, defensive tackle Akeem Spence and defensive end Cornelius Washington. The Lions also traded for tackle Greg Robinson and signed tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.
Robinson started 14 games for the Los Angeles Rams last season, and Kouandjio started five for the Buffalo Bills. Robinson and defensive end Cornelius Washington were removed from the non-football injury list before practice Sunday.
Lang understands the importance of cohesion on the offensive line and hopes it won’t take too long to identify a replacement for Decker’s left tackle spot.
“In a perfect situation, you’d like somebody to step in and claim that spot early so you can start building as a unit, but sometimes competitions like that, they go all the way until the end of camp,” Lang said. “Which is also not a bad thing, because it means both guys, however many guys are out there playing that position, are really trying hard to take that spot.”
Bryant had three sacks in only five games for Detroit last season. Thornton started six games. Now the Lions will be without both for a while.
“You break the rules and there’s penalties. They’re going to serve their penalties,” Caldwell said. “We’re disappointed in them, upset with them, the whole bit, but the fact of the matter is, every situation and case is handled differently and so they’ll be punished for it.”
Caldwell did not provide any timetable Sunday for Ansah’s return.
NOTES: Caldwell said after practice that TE Eric Ebron had “a little bit of a tweak” — perhaps to a hamstring. ... The Lions signed S Glover Quin to a contract extension through the 2019 season. Quin has played the past four seasons for Detroit. He’s made 116 consecutive regular-season starts, the most of any active safety in the NFL. This would have been the final season of his contract. ... “It felt great. This was something that I wanted, and obviously with the front office getting it done, it was something that they wanted as well,” Quin said. “Going into the last year of a contract, you just never know what’s going to happen.”
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