Ndamukong Suh proved as a rookie with the Lions last year that he’s quick enough to line up on the outside as a pass-rushing defensive end or even a linebacker. But Lions coach Jim Schwartz says that while Suh’s freakish abilities give him plenty of flexibility, the Lions won’t forget that Suh is, first and foremost, a defensive tackle.
Schwartz told the Detroit Free Press that Suh played “maybe a dozen” snaps as a stand-up pass rusher last year, and that’s about what the Lions will keep doing with Suh: Have him standing up on the outside maybe once a game just to give the offense one more thing to think about, but don’t get too cute with it.
“I think that when you do, you need to have reasons for it,” Schwartz said. “If you just try to junk it up where you’re moving him every play, you take away from what the guy’s good at and what he can do.”
Suh had 10 sacks last year, most in the NFL for any defensive tackle, and eight of those 10 were from his normal left defensive tackle position. The other two were a sack of Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb with Suh lined up at right defensive end, and a sack of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with Suh lined up as a linebacker, three yards off the line of scrimmage.
Those sacks from positions other than defensive tackle might keep coming in 2011. But they’ll continue to be the exception, not the norm.