Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Lions camp Day 3: Suh-a-palooza
By Kevin Seifert ESPN.com
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions wasted no time Wednesday throwing their newly prized prospect into the mix. Rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh arrived at the team's facility at 1:40 p.m. ET, passed a significant conditioning test -- more on that in a bit -- and immediately jumped in with the first team defense when practice began a few minutes later.
Ndamukong Suh worked out against the first team during his first training camp practice.
Some teams at least play out the charade of requiring a high draft pick to "earn" his way up the depth chart. But in this instance, there was no reason to mess around and little time to waste. As we noted earlier Wednesday, Suh is a centerpiece of the most important position group on the team this season. Suh-a-palooza has begun.
"I was running with the ones during [spring practices]," Suh said, "so I kind of came in here expecting it. I was at home with the plays and trying to remember everything. I knew if I was running with the ones, I wanted to be prepared."
During a meeting with reporters, Suh projected the same confident and mature image he carried throughout the draft process. Although his absence ended after a relatively modest five days, he admitted to having heard complaints from Lions fans who had no tolerance for a holdout of any length. It got pretty nasty on Twitter, and Suh said: "It was a tough time."
He added: "Obviously I wanted to be in camp on time, and that's what I said. I wanted to be in camp on time and unfortunately I wasn't. I apologize for that, but as we all know, it's a business. ... You have to look past those things. Obviously I know the fans were excited and wanted me to be in camp. I don't fault them for that. It's unfortunate some things were said, but I'm not going to hold a grudge on it. It is what it was."
None of his teammates appeared to hold grudges either. Some wandered onto the practice field early to cheer him during the conditioning test, which consisted of two sets of 300-yard shuttle runs. The first had to be completed within 65 seconds, and the second by 67 seconds. "No problem," Suh said.
Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch pulled him aside to offer some private words of encouragement, and Suh then made it through a nearly two-hour practice in 90-degree heat. (Your blogger made sure to find some shade.) Suh said he weighed in at 305 pounds, but joked that he probably dropped five during the practice. While I wish I could give you some kind of detailed analysis of his practice performance, the reality is players were in shorts and shells. The best thing that can be said is that Suh is in camp, in shape and had enough retention to jump into the first-team defense right away. All's well that ends well.
Let's get to some final camp observations and notes before I head off to Green Bay, the third stop of our training camp tour. Remember, my formal Lions Camp Confidential will post Saturday.
Tight end Brandon Pettigrew had an active morning practice, catching two really nice downfield passes from quarterback Matthew Stafford. Pettigrew sat out the afternoon practice, but that's typical for players recovering from anterior cruciate ligament injuries. "Brandon has been doing a little bit more each day," coach Jim Schwartz said.
Receiver Tim Toone flashed a couple times during the morning practice, and on one play, he put a double move on cornerback Chris Houston that left him wide open down the right sideline. This is pure amateur work, but I would put Toone no lower than fourth on the Lions' depth chart of receivers after Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and Bryant Johnson. I've thought he looked much smoother than 2009 draft choice Derrick Williams, and I'm wondering if Dennis Northcutt will be the odd man out.
The Lions released veteran safety Marquand Manuel, who was buried on a depth chart of middling safeties. He started four games last season.