Wed, 08 Jul 2020

O'HARA: Decker continuing his offseason workouts in Arizona

Detroit Lions
29 May 2020, 20:25 GMT+10

Taylor Decker is training in familiar territory for his fifth season as the Detroit Lions' starting offensive left tackle, but the circumstances could not be more different than the first four.

Decker is training in Scottdale, Arizona, at the gym operated by former NFL offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley.

Bentley's gym has been Decker's offseason training site every offseason for five years. It stared when he prepared for the 2016 Combine.

What is obviously different this year is that by now Decker would be well into the offseason program at the Lions' headquarters in Allen Park. The building is closed, under quarantine mandates to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"The difference, as far as the offseason, is not having the OTAs," Decker said Thursday in a Zoom interview session with the Detroit media. "As far as my offseason training in Arizona, my gym's been open the entire time."

Of all the positions on offense, the linemen are affected most by the limitations imposed on them by not having the team together. Even in small groups, players at the skilled positions can throw passes, run routes, catch passes and simulate running plays.

It's similar to three-on-three basketball. It's not the real thing, but close enough to get a good workout.

"I've been fortunate to be able to be around other NFL guys, doing what I typically do in the offseason, aside from having to adapt to not having the OTAs and going against a live defense," Decker said.

"We try to work around that. At least at our gym we have enough guys to where we can put an offensive line out, and we can have guys lined up in defensive positions.

"It's not like we're going to pass rush. Obviously, none of us can rush the passer, or we wouldn't be playing O-line."

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One thing that does not change with offensive linemen no matter where they train is the repetition in drills. Fundamentals are the foundation of playing the offensive line.

"I just go through different stunts, different blitzes. Just kind of recognition of that," Decker said. "Just line me up next to somebody and taking sets. Working around the best we can.

"And again, I think I'm real fortunate to have a facility to go train at with trainers. I know a lot of guys are training in their garages and stuff like that.

"I know they're doing the best they can. It's all we can do right now, trying to be professional."

Decker said the attention level is high in the regular Zoom meetings with players and coaches dialed in from around the country.

"We're trying to maximize it," Decker said. "It's been nice to see everybody in there. Everybody's been taking note. Everybody's been into it.

"It's a unique challenge for all of us. I think what we can handle, just be professionals about it. The assignments and things like that, that we can control. Take care of that so we can hit the ground running as best can can when we get back to some normalcy."

Going into his fifth season, Decker is the elder statesman in terms of starting experience on the Lions' offensive line. He's been the starting left tackle, when healthy, since coming to the Lions as a first-round draft pick out of Ohio State in 2016.

The Lions' offensive line is a tight unit, which is the case on most teams. Decker welcomed rookies Jonah Jackson of Ohio State and Logan Stenberg of Kentucky to the fraternity after they were drafted.

"I got their information and reached out to them," Decker said. "Just to say hello, welcome to the team. Happy to have them."

Decker can be a free agent after this year, but he doesn't seem preoccupied about his contract status.

"It's something that's coming along in the future," he said. "Whenever it happens, it happens. I leave that to my agent. That's why I pay him.

"I just take care of being a good football player."

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