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Minicamp report: With Suh gone, Lions’ DE Taylor gets work inside

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ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Detroit Lions defensive end Devin Taylor received first-team reps on Wednesday, but it was at a surprise position — defensive tackle.

Under defensive coordinator Teryl Austin last season, the Lions regularly flipped their ends and tackles in games, and Taylor said he has been training to play inside the last couple of years.

With questions about depth at tackle, the Lions could use bigger ends like Jason Jones and Taylor to fill the void left by the departures of Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and C.J. Mosley.

“They pretty much see me and J.J., I guess, as a similar body type, so they just work me inside,” Taylor said. “Especially being a defensive end, you have a little bit maybe of a speed advantage over some of the other tackles because (offensive linemen are) not used to playing people who have that kind of quickness.”

The 6-foot-7, 275-pound Taylor’s ability to play multiple positions would give him an opportunity to play more in 2015. He flashed some talent as a rookie in 2013 with 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in limited playing time.

However, he didn’t get more reps in 2014 as George Johnson and Darryl Tapp became the top backups to Jones and Ezekiel Ansah.

“One of the things that jumps out at you is the fact that he has an unbelievable amount of talent,” head coach Jim Caldwell said.

“His skill level is unusual. He’s got speed, he’s got length, he’s tough, and I think with him, he was a bit of a young player. But I think now you’re starting to see some of these guys develop. He’s one of those guys.

“He’s a very, very important part of what we do, and we’re expecting to see him develop by leaps and bounds.”

–Tight end Joseph Fauria participated in individual drills on Wednesday after sitting out Tuesday and for most of OTAs while he recovers from an ankle injury that plagued him in 2014.

“I’m itching,” Fauria said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve played football, so I’m really itching for it right now.”

Fauria, who is entering his third year, said he plans to be ready for training camp.

–Cornerback Nevin Lawson hasn’t yet competed in team drills as he bounces back from a foot injury that ended his rookie season in Week 2. Lawson said he’s not worried about the added competition after the Lions drafted two cornerbacks this year — Alex Carter in the third round and Quandre Diggs in the sixth.

“It definitely doesn’t mess with my psyche because I’m a competitor,” Lawson said. “One thing I know in the NFL is no matter where you go there’s always going to be competition. You should never be relaxed wherever you got drafted.

“At the end of the day, I know that I have to work. I know nothing’s going to be given to me. That’s been my whole life. I’ve worked for everything I’ve got, so that’s the goal.”

–Kicker Matt Prater asked the coaches to add a nine-foot goalpost he used to practice on for years in Denver. On Wednesday, he made all three field-goal attempts from 49, 51 and 54 yards on the regulation uprights after practicing with the narrow ones.

“Kicking’s all mental,” Prater said. “Anybody can go out and kick. It’s just who can do it under pressure and in the games. It’s just a little mental part where you aim small, miss small.”


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