<
>

Taylor Decker trying to get '1 percent better' every day for Lions

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- It wasn’t a pretty rep. Then again, that should be expected from time to time when Taylor Decker, rookie left tackle, is lining up against Ezekiel Ansah, a Pro Bowler last season.

And while Decker has held his own from time to time, there have also been individual reps like Friday's during Detroit Lions training camp. Ansah got off the ball fast, moved quickly toward the bag representing the quarterback and swatting it down, essentially blowing past the rookie.

“Get to go against him a lot, a whole lot,” Decker said. “But you go out there and stay true to your technique. You don’t go do some off-the-wall stuff just because the guy you’re across from is a good player.

“There’s plenty of guys that can rush the passer, so you kind of stay true to your technique and execute it.”

It’s part of an interesting learning process for the Lions’ first-round pick. He has been at left tackle since the Lions' first open session of organized team activities and hasn’t budged since. While Detroit’s coaching staff hasn’t publicly committed to Decker being the team’s left tackle, everything they’ve shown on the field has trended that way.

“I just try to come out here and focus on getting like 1 percent better every day,” Decker said. “One little thing that I can find, and kind of coach [Ron] Prince says the same thing. Just find one little thing and get better on that and focus on that.

“Regardless of whatever else happens, try to get better at that.”

There has been progress, though. Decker had a good individual rep against Brandon Copeland later Friday and looks to have been absorbing plenty. The more interesting test for him will come next week in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and then Aug. 12 in Pittsburgh, where he’ll be protecting Matthew Stafford's blind side against a good Steelers front seven.

At that point, the Lions might have a better idea of where Decker is and what he needs to work on.

1. Eric Ebron missed practice: He was there physically, but the tight end was off on the side wearing a bucket hat instead of his helmet. Lions coach Jim Caldwell didn’t seem too concerned about his long-term health, although he wouldn’t say what is ailing Ebron and whether it is related to what kept him out during the spring. He’s had a pretty good camp overall, making a lot of catches and appearing to be more consistent than he was in the first two seasons.

“He’s been OK. He’s made a lot of catches out here,” Caldwell said. “He’s caught the ball better than he’s caught it before, which I think is good. He’s doing a lot of things better. He, also, is one of those that is a little bit more familiar with the system and so he’s executing better. He’s not perfect.

“He’s got a lot of talent that is still yet unearthed and we just got to keep working with him but he’ll be all right.”

2. Kyle Van Noy makes a play: The third-year pro and former second-round pick is being given every chance to win the starting Sam linebacker job for the Lions, the same role he competed for, unsuccessfully, last season. He’s been better this training camp and he made a strong play Friday, reading a Jake Rudock pass well and tipping it up in the air. The bad news? The ball was still caught by Ben McCord, who then took it for a gain. But the read is what stood out.

3. Stefan Charles stands out: The Lions have a pretty deep defensive line, particularly at tackle. The guy who continually stands out to me, particularly in individual drills, has been Charles. He’s gotten into it with offensive linemen consistently during the offensive-versus-defensive lineman individual drill, and he’s often winning those reps as well. Charles went toe to toe with guard Laken Tomlinson earlier in training camp and he’s been a guy who has a clear attitude about how he plays.

4. Johnson Bademosi had a good day: Mentioned Bademosi’s struggles in coverage a bunch so far during camp -- somewhat important because he might be relied on to be the No. 4 or No. 5 cornerback after starters Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson and Quandre Diggs. But Bademosi turned in a good day Friday. He stuck hard to receiver Jay Lee during a one-on-one rep, read the play well, turned perfectly and picked off a Dan Orlovsky pass. Best play I’ve seen him make all camp. While it was against a rookie, Lee has been beating most of the other cornerbacks he has faced. Bademosi also almost intercepted another Orlovsky pass during team drills.

5. This and that: Caldwell said tight end Brandon Pettigrew is “coming along,” but he wouldn’t commit to him being ready for the start of the regular season. ... The Lions' mock game Saturday morning will be in part to get players acclimated with the pre-game warmup and situational work. Then the team will scrimmage and NFL officials are in town. Caldwell said some players will sit out the scrimmage, but he wouldn’t say who might not participate.