They were passing time, sitting in the offensive line room one day last week, when Jonah Jackson began to kid Graham Glasgow about his mustache.
Do you ever get food stuck in it, Jackson asked the eight-year veteran and senior member of the Detroit Lions‘ offensive line.
Glasgow said he sometimes saves flavors for later and has worn his mustache for so long that he can parse them out: Vanilla on the left side, chocolate on the right and strawberry in the middle.
“A little Neapolitan action,” Glasgow joked, telling a reporter of one PG-rated example of the fun he’s having in his second go-round with the team that selected him in the third round of the 2016 NFL draft out of Michigan.
DAVE BIRKETT’S OBSERVATIONS: Hendon Hooker keeps progressing in return from ACL injury
Glasgow, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Taylor Decker and Germain Ifedi were all part of the 2016 draft class, while Ragnow entered the league two years later and has been starting ever since.
“For some reason, it wasn’t really like that as much for me the past few years,” Glasgow said. “And now that I’m back, it just is — a lot of us are kind of the same age, like me, V, Taylor, Frank, Germain. So it’s all, it’s not like there’s just one crotchy veteran in T.J. (Lang). … and all of us being like, ‘OK.’ But now it’s a little bit more of everybody’s — I mean, I see where he was at, at that point in time now.”
Glasgow, Decker and Ragnow were teammates with the Lions in 2018-19 — Lang, who Glasgow considers a friend, was the old head in the Lions’ offensive line room in 2017-18 — and Ragnow’s emergence as a Pro Bowl player helped pave the way for Glasgow’s free-agent exit from Detroit in 2020.
He spent the past three seasons with the Denver Broncos, with whom he started 33 of the 37 games he played at guard and center, then re-signed with the Lions after his release this spring, saying he made the decision to return to Detroit largely because, “I wanted to be with my buddies.”
Nine days into training camp, Glasgow’s second turn with the Lions has been everything he hoped for: The team is talented and feels like it’s on the verge of doing something special, and he’s having just as much fun as he did when he was a kid playing with other kids on the Lions’ front.
“I actually approach it like this is a lot more fun,” Glasgow said. “I don’t know why, but like it’s probably just ’cause — I’m out here and I’m competing and doing whatever I can, but at the same time I think it’s — I don’t know, it just seems more fun.”
Part of that is where Glasgow is at, and what he has been through, in his career:
In 2016, he started 11 games for a Lions team that made the playoffs as a wild card and might have won its division if not for a late-season finger injury to quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Lions lost in the first round of the playoffs that winter, and never approached success again in Glasgow’s final three seasons with the team.
Glasgow hoped to stay in Detroit when his contract expired, but the organizational philosophy at the time prohibited the Lions from spending to keep a guard in free agency.
In Denver, Glasgow never won more than five games in a season, and last year’s Broncos were one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL.
Though he knows he’s nearing the end of a career 99% of NFL players would give their left arm for, Glasgow said the bliss he has felt being back with the Lions has less to do with his place in life and more to do with the people he’s around.
“I think it’s just more along the lines of, you’ve made money and you can come in here and like — I’m not saying that, like, that changes the mentality of things, but I feel like there’s a lot less pressure in that regard and you can come in here and focus on getting better without having a lot of anxiety about it,” Glasgow said. “I don’t think it’s along the lines of like a retirement thing, but I think it’s just more like — ’cause camp still sucks. I don’t think anybody’ll tell you camp is fun. I mean, a coach will tell you it’s fun, but it’s long days, hard practices, hot. Mainly humid; forgot how humid it was here.
“But at the same time I’m also having fun just ’cause I’m around guys who I really enjoy being around, and I think that’s also another part of it. I think it’s just I’m in the best place I can possibly be right now, and I’m really happy about it and I’m out there trying to do what I can.”
For Glasgow, that means competing with Vaitai for the starting right guard job and spelling Ragnow at center with the first team. Glasgow played center exclusively in practice Sunday, with Ragnow getting a day off, but has spent most of his time at guard, where he and Vaitai are alternating days with the ones.
He said his goal is to start at guard this fall.
“I didn’t come here to not play,” Glasgow said. “I mean, there’s a lot of intrigue into it, in a weird way, but at the same time it’s fine. I’m just out here to play.”
In practice, Glasgow is the same steady technician he was in his early days, so much so that he said Saturday he still is working to add new things to his game. In one-on-one pass rush drills Friday, Glasgow eschewed his usual jump set to try a different pass-blocking technique against Alim McNeill.
McNeill won the rep with ease, but Glasgow said he changed his steps to make McNeill think he was going to get more depth off the ball, a tactic he might use against a more finesse-based interior rusher during the season.
“I think that one-on-ones are a period where a lot of guys area really scared to lose, but I think you need to go out there and try something different to see if you can add it to something that you do in a game,” Glasgow said.
Glasgow, of course, is established enough to know one bad rep in one-on-ones does not define him and won’t impact his chances of making the team. And that’s part of the peace of mind he has found, too, back in Detroit.
“I think really what our vision for him to this point is exactly what we thought we were acquiring and what we thought he could be for us,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “He’s been steady and reliable at multiple jobs and he’s not going to bat an eye, and he’s kind of a guy you don’t have to worry about. You don’t have to worry it’s going to be too big for him or he’s going to mess something up mentally. He’s just going to go in there and handle his business and that’s one of the reasons we acquired him, and I think he’s shown that to this point.”
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions Graham Glasgow, rejuvenated, out to win starting RG job