Jim Schwartz backs Ndamukong Suh

Updated: February 11, 2014, 3:51 PM ET
By Michael Rothstein | ESPN.com

Through the final four seasons of Jim Schwartz's tenure with the Detroit Lions, he spent a decent amount of time defending one of his star players, Ndamukong Suh.

And even though Schwartz is now with Buffalo as the Bills' defensive coordinator, he again defended Suh and his coaching staff against consistent reports that the defensive tackle was late for meetings and generally disruptive during their time together.

[+] EnlargeNdamukong Suh
Harry How/Getty ImagesNdamukong Suh has been widely criticized for being disruptive to the Lions, but former coach Jim Schwartz came to his defense Tuesday.

The last similar missive came during Super Bowl week, when former player Heath Evans said Suh was late to meetings and "uncontrollable" during part of Schwartz's time in Detroit.

"There were a lot of things that were completely untrue that were said. Somebody said that Ndamukong was constantly late and was doing it to show up the coaching staff and all these different things," Schwartz said Tuesday on the Midday 180 show on 104.5 FM in Nashville, Tenn. "And I can say categorically, in four years as a player there, he was late zero times in four years, and I know that for a fact.

"I was there every single day. Ndamukong was one of our first guys in the building every single day, and he matured as a player also."

The maturity of Suh has often been questioned, mostly due to incidents on the field that led to a suspension in 2011 for stomping on Green Bay Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith and in 2013 for a low block on Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan that brought a $100,000 fine in the opening week of last season.

But Schwartz pointed to support in Detroit's locker room -- Suh was voted a team captain for the first time in 2013 -- as evidence of his maturity.

Even though Schwartz is gone, he still wants to see Suh succeed most weeks.

"You're not going to get voted by your teammates a team captain if you're the guy that's late and things like that," Schwartz said. "He's had an outstanding career so far, and he has a lot in front of him. Even though I'm now over at the Bills and we play Detroit this year, I'm certainly still a Ndamukong Suh fan and in a lot of ways still a Lions fan.

"I want a lot of players there, a lot of coaches there to continue to have success, as long as it is not at the Bills' expense."

Michael Rothstein | email

ESPN Detroit Lions reporter

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