June 30, 2011
Thanks to our friends at Subway, Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh(notes) has become a bit of a regular on the Corner, and we were pleased to talk with him again on Thursday. We spoke with Suh as he was bringing the avocado greatness to various Subway shops in the Detroit area, and also talked about his offseason, the lockout, how rookie Nick Fairley(notes) may fit in Detroit's already scary defensive line, and what the Lions need to do to take that next step.
Shutdown Corner: First of all, talk about what you're doing with Subway these days.
Ndamukong Suh: Right now, I'm running around on a part-time job with them, bringing avocados to the various restaurants in the Detroit area. It's a lot of fun and I'm enjoying it. And sometimes, when it becomes busy during the lunch hour, I become a sandwich artist and help the rush line move a little bit quicker. Just to help them out. I'm looking forward to continuing it, and I'm out here today helping my second store.
SC: I can imagine that your presence would speed things along if that's what you wanted. Now, do you have previous experience in the art of fast-food service?
NS: Yes, I do — I did this last year. I've been working with Subway for a while, and it's been fun to be a part of this.
SC: Before we talk about the NFL, tell us about Camp Suh in Detroit. You had your high school coach involved?
NS: We had a great, great camp. We just finished it up yesterday—it was a two-day camp, and the first day was probably the most fun I've ever had. We put on a free impact camp for inner-city kids — about 120 kids came out, and that was probably the most enjoyable time, because you had them out there having fun and racing around. And it wasn't just the kids; it was their family members as well.
SC: You came into the NFL — very structured situation. Your head coach [Jim Schwartz] is a D-line guy; [defensive coordinator] Gunther Cunningham obviously does it the old-school way. So you had a structure that allowed you to bring your talent to the league and really get it done. How are things different through this offseason with the lockout?
NS: For me, it's my first NFL offseason, so there hasn't been that much to adjust to. I guess you could say that going off my prior offseason as a rookie — I had great OTAs that I got to go through with my teammates and the other rookies. That was a huge part of my development in a successful rookie season, and I feel bad for all the rookies this year, because they don't have that same opportunity — they're going to have to learn it on the fly. My offseason changed in that aspect, as well as having surgery, so it's been kind of twisted all around. But I've been able to manage and get to the position where I am now, and I'm just looking forward to getting into the 2011 season.
SC: Obviously, everyone's talking about the potential havoc created by the interior duo of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Based on what you've seen of Fairley, what's your take on him, and how you see that combo working out? I assume you two have talked?
NS: We have spoken — I talked with him at the Super Bowl for about an hour at lunch. I had no clue that he was coming to play for us, and I then had a great opportunity to speak to him after he was drafted. He seems very eager and ready to become part of the defensive line. I think we'll be able to be a great tandem. Hopefully, it can be like it was at Nebraska in my senior year, with myself and Jared Crick, and him coming and being a real impact guy. He relieved pressure off of me I relieved pressure off of him, and we became a dominant unit inside.
SC: When it comes to team leadership, do you see younger players now coming to you, and how important is that role to you?
NS: That's going to be interesting, to see how younger players talk to me in the NFL. I know I've had a little bit of that reaction with my own rookie peers with the Lions. Not only that, but friends I've had from playing in the Big 12. I definitely want to hone in on that and take it by the reins. One rookie in particular, Prince Amukamara(notes), who was drafted by the New York Giants in the first round — he went to my school. So, it's something that I've embraced. Fairley was actually one of those guys that reached out to me after he won the Lombardi award, and we had won it in back-to-back years.
SC: Yeah — I talked with Prince a few months back and he said that you've been very helpful. You obviously came in to the NFL without too much of an adjustment issue; you were blowing stuff up pretty quickly. But when you think about your game as it stands now, what would you like to improve?
NS: My overall game. I know it sounds like a cliché, but I feel that I had a good season as a rookie and I need to improve on betting faster, stronger … moving my feet and hands on a daily basis. That's something that's always true, even in the middle of the season — you're never in a position where you have the perfect hands and feet for the whole season. You continue to build and work on new things, and continue to beat offensive linemen, week in and week out.
SC: You've had some pretty positive things to say about the progressions in the lockout talks — do you get the feeling that we're close to a resolution?
NS: I definitely want to stick with the positive vibes and thinking that we're going to have a full season. At this point, I think we're still in great shape to get it done. It comes down to crunch-time and where there needs to be some heavy movement, and I think we're at that point right now. I think we're getting to the point that if it's longer than a week or two [from now], you never know … but we as players, and me not being a player rep or a huge name in the NFL, don't always get the information right away. When we do get it done — hopefully soon — I'll definitely be excited to get the season started.
SC: Everybody seems to be drinking the Kool-Aid when it comes to the Lions this year — three great drafts in a row, unified front office and coaching staff, very solid personnel at a lot of positions. In your mind, what do you guys need to do in order to take the next step?
NS: We need to build off that four-game winning streak at the end of the season — that's the biggest thing. We were in every single game and we have the talent to be in every single gave, but it's a matter of being in the right situations. The game of football, especially in the NFL, is all about situations, and coming out on the big end of that stick.
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