Coming out of Desert Hills High School, Penei Sewell was one of the most sought-after offensive linemen in the 2018 class, playing primarily at right tackle. At Oregon, he was arguably the most dominant left tackle in the sport, allowing just one sack in over 1,376 snaps.
Now, Sewell is back at right tackle with the Detroit Lions, and he said that it has been an adjustment so far.
“It is not that easy,” he said Thursday after day three of the Lions’ organized team activities. “It’s a whole different feel. It’s like, let’s say, I’m right-handed, so I’ve been writing right-handed my whole life. Then one day, you’re just asked to write your full name left-handed at full speed, the same speed that you write with your right hand.”
Despite the adjustment, Sewell is ready for the challenge.
“I love a challenge, and it’s something that I’m looking forward to,” he said. “It takes me back to my high school days, and I'm looking forward to growing in that position.”
Sewell was a late arrival to OTAs, missing rookie minicamp after testing positive for COVID-19. Since he's arrived however, he said he's comfortable being with teammates and getting on the field once again.
“I’m feeling good now,” Sewell said of his condition. “Being out here for a couple of days and kind of getting that ramp up here and to really recover from all that has been wonderful.”
Although the players aren’t in pads and hitting each other just yet, he has learned some tips and tricks from watching the veteran offensive linemen.
“As of right now, everything has been kind of easy just watching the older guys do what it takes to prepare for practice and their process,” Sewell said. “I just kind of pick up the little things that they do and try to see if it fits me and my personality and my process to where I can feel comfortable to do those things and go out and perform at the level I want to perform.”
Another challenge for Sewell is that he has not played in a game since the 2020 Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin. He opted out of his junior season after the Pac-12 cancelled its season in September.
“Being on the field really helps a lot because it kind of creates a different vibe for me that I get to be out there with the guys and play the sport that I love,” he said.
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Sewell will likely be the starting right tackle for the Lions, playing alongside names like Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow, former first-round pick Taylor Decker, and former Oregon lineman Tyrell Crosby.
It may take some time for Sewell to get adjusted to the right tackle spot, but he has veterans in the offensive line room as well as offensive line coach and former NFL lineman Hank Fraley to learn from.
The Lions finished their first set of OTAs Thursday and will resume workouts June 2-4 and June 14-17. There will be a mandatory minicamp from June 8-10 as well.
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