Teez Tabor’s Outlook, Taylor Decker’s Return From Injury, And TJ Lang’s Health For Week Eleven.
Question One: Do You Think Teez Tabor Will Make An Impact this Season?
I am hopeful that he will, but I doubt he will generate significant production given how much of the season has already taken place. However, I do think Teez’s ball skills could be useful down the stretch and could earn himself more playing time than he has seen yet this year. The rookie cornerback was brought in against the Green Bay Packers in week nine to help on big nickle downs. He played in the slot or as the money backer when the game was getting close to being over.
There was not much to evaluate about Tabor in that game as his impact was minimal. However, I do think that as the season begins to wind down and the playoff hunt begins, you will see more and more of the Lions second round pick simply because of his ability to intercept the ball. While the Lions secondary has had great production out of safety Glover Quin and corner Darius Slay, they are ranked 23rd in interceptions through their first nine games.
This is where I see Teez coming in. If the Lions are in place for a playoff push every game is going to matter and winning the turnover battle is paramount to winning those games. While his time may be limited, he can make his impact felt by snatching the ball back for the offense to help secure wins or start comebacks.
Question Two: How Did Taylor Decker Look In His Return Sunday?
As good as could have hoped for. They did rotate him with Brian Mihalik and he did seem a little less powerful than last season, but that is not overly surprising at this point. He looked really sound in pass protection again versus the Cleveland Browns last week, facing first overall pick Myles Garrett.
But what I was impressed with the most was his impact on the running game. The Lions left tackle spot got an upgrade for run blocking, just with his return to the position. But this week was arguably the best week the running backs have had this season and it was partially to do with his return.
With Decker out, the Lions forced left guard Graham Glasgow to have to double team or chip block whoever the left tackles assignment has been for much of the year and that has strained the running game. It forces center Travis Swanson to win one on one matchups or forces the right guard to help him before going to his assignment. This combined with and inexperienced line has led to many lanes for linebackers to run through, really hurting this running game.
Upon Taylor Decker’s return, the interior lineman were able to help each other more and did a better job getting to the second level and created running lanes as a result. The running game instantly looked better with him in the lineup, which is promising with the Lions two games back from the division lead.
Question Three: How Important Is It For TJ Lang To Be Healthy For A Win Against The Bears Sunday?
Most importantly for anyone coming off an injury, especially a brain injury, to get healthy first. With the Lions two games back from the division lead, they want all of their starters as healthy as possible heading towards the end of the year. Lang has already had a concussion earlier this season, so more concussion symptoms now does not look very good.
The good news is he entered concussion protocol last week, so it is possible for him to still pass protocol and play this week. But the Lions may not even need to rush him back. The Bears interior line has not looked overly dominating and backup Corey Robinson did a nice job filling in last week at right guard with Lang out. He did not let up a single quarterback hit or sack.
I think it ultimately comes down to how he feels. If he is feeling 100 percent and ready to go, absolutely start him. But with Robinson filling in fine against a really good Browns front seven last week, I would not stress if he had to start this Sunday against the Bears either.