In the two months that have passed since he suffered a broken left index finger that put him on the sidelines in the first half of the season, Taylor Decker has been questioned pretty much everything about his football life.
His position. His toughness. His future with the Detroit Lions.
And he did not kindly accept a single bit of it.
Decker said in his first comments since his injury at a video conference on Monday that he was annoyed by media and fan speculation that he could be traded to make room for Penei Sewell and by people who questioned his ability to play through an injury that was more serious than most realized.
“Honestly, I feel like the narrative of negativity around my name all year long has pretty much been some shit,” Decker said. “I do not feel that it has been deserved. I feel that people in the building and I feel that many fans appreciate me and what I can do for this team. But yes, the media has been pretty negative pretty much all year. “around me so I’m not going to behave the way I like it. I think it was (pronounced) bullshit. I’ve played a lot of football here and I think I’ve played well. So that’s it.”
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Decker suffered a spiral fracture in his left index finger in practice Sept. 8, four days before the Lions’ season-opening loss to the San Francisco 49ers, which he said “rotated and shortened.”
He was given five screws and a plate put in his hand during the operation in September, and after trying unsuccessfully to return in mid-October – two months before the doctor’s three-month recovery schedule – he made his debut in Sunday’s 16- 16 draw. Pittsburgh Steelers.
“They told me three months and I’ll be playing in two months,” Decker said. “And I did everything I could to try to get back on the field, and honestly it was also insulting that people behaved like I just did” I would not play and would be out all season.
“So, yes, it’s really important to have your hand, and if you have a finger that is not functional, and if you have to throw it with someone else, and then you only have one ring finger and one pinky to grab people. , who weighs 275 pounds, run a 4.6, it’s hard to do. It’s hard to do. And even yesterday my hand is not at 100% yet, but it’s hard. You have to be healthy. You can not have things that bother you by playing NFL football.
“And everyone has looked up, but when it’s a legitimate injury and I’m told the timeline of the surgeon, I’ll go with that timeline of the surgeon because they’re experts in it, and specialists in it, and it’s what they do. “
Decker was expected to lead what the Lions hoped would be one of the NFL’s leading offensive lines going into the season, but his injury caused the Lions to move Sewell, a 2021 first-rounder, from right to left tackle.
Sewell played well enough early in the season for the 49ers to pass rusher Nick Bosa and NFL Network analyst Joe Thomas, a future Hall of Fame lineman, among others, suggested the Lions keep Sewell at left tackle and move Decker to the right, when he returned.
The Lions were initially non-committal about where Decker would play when he returned, and Decker said his parents, friends and neighbors asked him about radio speculation that he could be swapped as part of the organization’s rebuilding.
Decker, 28, is in the first year of a four-year, $ 60 million contract extension he signed last summer.
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“Having to sit down and have a conversation with my dad that it would be OK if something like this were to happen, even if it’s not going to happen,” Decker said. “And my friends called me, worried. I’m thinking, ‘I play in the NFL, it’s okay. But when my parents call, my parents get worried and they’re sad, and my friends and family and people in my neighborhood that I see outside when I walk my dogs, just to be able to handle it all. . Since, as far as I understand, there was zero chance I was not a Detroit lion this year.
“It’s just really frustrating, and I feel like a lot of those articles are written for clicks and are grandiose and exaggerated, and I do not understand it – and I will never understand why there was so much negativity around me and my name. do not feel it was deserved at all. “
Decker, who came after his best season, spent more than a month on injured reserve after surgery. He initially tried to return on October 13 and participated in individual exercises that day, but said he lasted a game of team exercises on day 2 of his return before realizing he needed more rest.
“I was trying to get back early and my hand was up and I was playing a round of training and holding and doing something about the UCL joint and the knuckle but we could not see it on the MRI scan because there is so much metal in there that you can not read MR, “he said. “But my hand blew it up. It was very swollen. I lost all the movement I had in my hand. So at that point it was like, ‘Okay, we have to let this calm down. , and then we’ll try again, get you out there again. ‘
“So that was what we did, and I think that was the smart thing to do instead of trying to hurry, because when I went back and saw the surgeon, she said you should probably give it a few weeks, otherwise you could cause permanent damage or break it again. “
Decker said he has “decent mobility” in his hand now, but there is still a 50-pound mismatch in grip strength between his left and right hand.
He helped lead the Lions’ season-high 229-yard rushing day Sunday against the Steelers and said he sees the unit, now with four of the five expected starters in place – Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow is out of season after having underwent a toe operation – to be a “bully out there on the court” for the foreseeable future.
“I think Penei has played great,” Decker said. “I love that kid. I love the guys in our room. They’re amazing. And he’s going to be a hell of a player for a long time. We have a lot of good guys, there’s good teammates in that room and it’s a fun room to it was of course the first time I was out there yesterday and played with everyone, but the energy and confidence we have as a group up front is quite impressive and I think we can be a good group in the coming years. “
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.