ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Ndamukong Suh did not surprise his teammates and coaches by not showing up to voluntary workouts with the Detroit Lions this week, even if it has become an issue outside of the team’s facility.
Suh typically trains on his own anyway and the one thing Lions players said Thursday is that whenever he does show up, they expect him to be in his typical pristine shape.
New coach Jim Caldwell said he wasn’t stunned by Suh’s lack of attendance, either.
“It certainly didn’t blindside me,” Caldwell said. “We certainly knew. He and I have probably had more discussions than any player that we’ve had on the team. He’s been in and out. I think he was here on a couple days when I came on a visit, so we kind of knew exactly what was going on.
“But from a coach’s standpoint, it’s just like anything else. My business is to get in the position to win and win consistently. So we want every single minute of every single hour with every single player. That’s the way we want it. The rules don’t always lend to that type of attitude, but nevertheless that’s the way it is.”
Caldwell declined to delve further into what Suh’s absence could mean.
Suh is in the final year of his rookie contract and team president Tom Lewand has said the team was anticipating talking with Suh’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, after last month’s owner’s meetings in Orlando, Fla., to work on an extension.
There has been no indication that Suh’s absence is in any way related to his contract negotiations. Running back Reggie Bush hinted at that Thursday before backtracking moments later, saying he had not spoken with Suh.
Again, and this is important to note: Suh has missed voluntary workouts in prior seasons as well in favor of training with his own people.
“He’s a guy that has trainers that he likes to work with and he’s done it sometimes in the past and we understand it,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “The one thing we know is when he shows up, he’s going to be in great shape and he’s going to be playing great football and we’ll be happy to have him.”
Suh had 49 tackles last season and 5.5 sacks. In his four years with the Lions, he has 185 tackles, 27.5 sacks and an interception. So whatever he has done in the past has clearly worked. He also typically plays more snaps than most other defensive tackles in the league, so from a conditioning standpoint, he’s usually been in shape when he arrives for workouts.
That he’s not with the Lions right now, to his teammates, doesn’t mean a ton as long as when he does show up, he is his typical in-shape self. Caldwell would not specifically say whether he expressed to Suh that he would have liked him at the start of voluntary workouts.
“We had several discussions, and I told you my feelings on it and what I would like to have done,” Caldwell said. “And that’s just kind of the way it is at this point in time.”Previously covered University of Michigan for ESPN.com and AnnArbor.com
Also covered Notre Dame for Fort Wayne Journal Gazette