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Jamaal Williams Should Return to Practice, Decker's Return Uncertain

Dan Campbell provides updates on the availability of running back Jamaal Williams and left tackle Taylor Decker.

The Detroit Lions have been missing offensive tackle Taylor Decker since prior to Week 1, when the Ohio State product went on injured reserve with a finger injury.

Decker had surgery, and has been out of action for five weeks. Heading into Week 6, he’s yet to return from injured reserve, but could return in the near future. Lions head coach Dan Campbell and Co. are optimistic.

Earlier in the week, Campbell spoke on the value of Decker and how his return will help the Lions' offense.

“Yeah, I mean, it would be -- look, it would be good,” Campbell said Wednesday. “I mean, certainly Decker is -- he’s a good player in this league. He’s one of the top tackles, and to be able to get him back would -- I mean, it would be good. Certainly, it would be good.”

In Decker’s absence, Campbell has turned to Matt Nelson at right tackle, while sliding rookie Penei Sewell to the left side. 

On Friday, Campbell said the Lions are still evaluating Decker on a day-to-day basis.

Should Decker not return for Detroit’s Week 6 game against Cincinnati, Sewell will remain at left tackle, and Nelson will start at right.

Campbell remains confident in Nelson’s abilities. Nelson, a second-year player out of Iowa, has impressed his coaches with his performance through five games.

“Now, Matt Nelson hasn’t -- Matt Nelson has gone in there and done a nice job, so we’re prepared to move either way,” Campbell said Wednesday. “If it’s Nelson for another week at right tackle while Decker is still getting his feet under him and getting everything right and the feel of it, we’re good with that. We’ll be ready, and so will Nelson.”

The tentative plan for Sewell is to slide him back to right tackle when Decker returns. As Decker gets closer, the former Oregon Ducks lineman is working at right tackle on a limited basis.

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“We’ve got some walkthrough reps where (Sewell) is taking some right (tackle reps),” Campbell said Friday. “And then, full speed reps, as well. So, we’ve tried to tinker with it, but yet, prepare for both ways.”

Williams should return

Running back Jamaal Williams was limited in practice Wednesday, and missed outright Thursday with a hip injury/illness. This isn’t a big reason for concern, however, as Campbell said the running back is set to return to practice Friday.

“He’s better,” Campbell said. “He’s here, and he feels better. And, he’s gonna practice today.”

Williams, who signed with the Lions in the offseason after four years with the Green Bay Packers, leads the team in rushing with 244 yards and two touchdowns on 55 carries.

Notes

  • The Lions made a trio of roster moves Friday. Kick returner Corey Ballentine was moved to injured reserve, while cornerback Shakur Brown was signed to the practice squad. 
  • To make room for Brown on the practice squad, offensive tackle Darrin Paulo was released.
  • With Ballentine out, Campbell said Godwin Igwebuike and Tom Kennedy will get chances to contribute in the return game. 

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