After 10 or so seasons, most players see a natural decline in their play, but that hasn’t been the case for Lions center Dominic Raiola in year 13. “I think he probably is playing as good as he’s ever played,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. Raiola will make his 180th career start on Sunday against the Cowboys, and if his play is any indication, he won’t be calling it quits after this year ends. During the offseason, Raiola added 15-20 pounds to play around 310. And while the weight has helped against some big defensive tackles, his offensive line teammates see a couple other reasons for his improved play. “He has the juice,” left guard Rob Sims said. “He’s just playing ball. He’s hungry.” Right tackle Corey Hilliard said Raiola found a “second wind,” knowing he’s near the end of his career. Raiola rates as the fourth-best center in the NFL and best in the NFC this season, according to Pro Football Focus analysis. While he’s been historically good as a pass-blocker, Raiola has made strides as a run-blocker, and he and rookie right guard Larry Warford have been responsible for many of the team’s long runs this season. “I feel like I’m having one of my best years in my 13 years,” Raiola said. “I’m excited about that, but I start over every week. I start from scratch every week and build it back up.” Raiola faces another tough matchup against Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, who has six sacks and three tackles for loss. Helping Raiola’s success this season is his health. He and Warford are the only starting offensive linemen that haven’t been slowed by some sort of injury, which he credits to his work in the weight room.
Lions' Dominic Raiola having best season of 13-year NFL career
Detroit News | Oct 26