ALLEN PARK — When Laken Tomlinson was benched for large parts of a Week 5 win against Philadelphia in 2016, then-coach Jim Caldwell insisted the former first-round pick remained the starter.
My, how wrong he was.
Graham Glasgow replaced Tomlinson as the starter the very next week. He played all the snaps, too. He played all the snaps the rest of that season, actually. And then all the snaps the following year too.
In fact, Glasgow strung together an impressive streak of 2,107 consecutive snaps before finally leaving the field when he injured his leg last week against Chicago. That ended a remarkable run that spanned 38 games and 768 days.
One play later, he was right back on the field.
“I laid on the ground there a little bit too long, and they called on the training staff, and once they did that I had to go off,” Glasgow said. “I couldn’t just stay on. It happens, and all the more kudos to guys who have long ones because at any time, you can get rolled up on and get up slow and they call in the training staff.
“But, yeah. I wanted to keep playing.”
The streak is an impressive one for any player, and especially one who plays such a physical position. Last season, every other member of the Lions’ starting offensive line missed multiple games. But Glasgow played every snap while splitting his time at guard and center, a remarkable run for a unit that came under heavy fire.
He’s been doing his thing again this year, rarely standing out, but often doing his job. He’s allowed a bunch of hurries — 14, according to ProFootballFocus, tied for second most at the position — but also hasn’t allowed a single sack. He ranks 12th at the position overall, according to PFF.
And once again, his consistency stands out for a unit that continues to ride some ups and downs. He’s now started 38 straight games overall, fifth most at the position.
“That’s the biggest thing,” coach Matt Patricia said. “Graham, he is consistent. Every single week he’s in there battling. … Graham’s a tough guy, he’s a smart guy, he’s a grind-it-out guy. Every single week he battles away in there. It’s tough inside, and he pulls himself back together and goes out and does it again. So, a lot of respect for that position and him battling all the way through that. It’s not easy.”
It won’t be this week, either.
Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald leads the NFL in sacks, and has been heating up lately with multiple sacks in four of his last five games. He also leads the NFL in hurries and leads all defensive linemen with three forced fumbles.
He’s making a real case to be the third defensive player ever to win MVP.
But the usual bag of tricks for handling an interior disruptor like that is limited because he’s got All-Pro Ndamukong Suh lining up next to him, and Dante Fowler and Michael Brockers are no slouches either.
The Rams defense has been average this season, but that defensive front is no joke, especially in the passing game. And with Kerryon Johnson out with a knee injury, Detroit could be required to pass to beat Los Angeles.
So Glasgow’s ability to hold up against Donald and Suh on the interior figures to be one of Detroit’s biggest keys.
“I think it just comes down to you can’t scheme it up as much,” Glasgow said. “I mean, Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark are a pretty good tandem. And some would say (Eddie) Goldman and (Akiem) Hicks are also pretty good. Everybody is good. But these guys are also really good. It just kind of comes down to you can’t scheme everything up. You can’t always scheme up double-teams, and sometimes it will come down to one-on-one blocks and making sure we come out on the better end of them.”