The Detroit Lions generally earned high marks for signing the best right tackle available in NFL free agency, Rick Wagner. But critics who questioned the deal point to Wagner’s down season in 2015 as a reason to be concerned. Wagner graded as the top right tackle in football in his first full season as a starter in 2014, according to Pro Football Focus. In 2015, he dropped to near the bottom of the list, when he allowed 52 pressures in 16 games. Last year, Wagner had a rebound season and once again was considered one of the best pass-protecting right tackles in the game. Wager, in a conference call with Detroit reporters after signing his five-year, $47.5-million deal, said his 2015 struggles were injury-related. “I guess I was coming off a pretty serious foot injury that year, kind of was difficult to get back in the swing of things,” Wagner said. “But I think I recovered well towards the end of that season. But as of last year, no issues. I think I’m back on the right track, playing solid football.” Wagner missed the final three games of the 2014 season (including the playoffs) with a sprained foot that required Lisfranc surgery. He played in every game in 2015 and never appeared on the Baltimore Ravens' injury report because of his foot. Wagner was listed on three week-ending injury reports that year, once each with knee and ankle injuries and a third time for non-injury reasons. Last year, Wagner missed what amounted to two games. He played only five special teams snaps in a Week 6 loss to the New York Giants because of a thigh injury and sat out a Week 17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals with a brain injury. Known primarily for his prowess as a run blocker in college, Wagner said former Ravens offensive line coach Juan Castillo helped him develop as a pass protector.
New Detroit Lions RT Rick Wagner explains his 2015 struggles
Detroit Free Press | Mar 23