ALLEN PARK >> Ndamukong Suh returns to Ford Field on Sunday for the first time since he signed with Miami as a free agent in 2015.
The defensive tackle returns with the Los Angeles Rams who are 10-1. While the sad-sack Lions have fallen to 4-7 in Matt Patricia’s first year.
Suh told the Los Angeles media he was looking forward to returning to Detroit. He loves the city and the fans but refrained from commenting on the organization that drafted him with the second overall pick in 2010.
Suh, who has started 110 straight games, had a few issues in Detroit. He was suspended for two games by the NFL for stomping the Packers’ Evan Dietrich-Smith on Thanksgiving in 2011. Through his time with the Lions he was fined eight times for a total of $255,375 by the NFL and gained a reputation for being one of the NFL’s dirtiest players.
He has been a good fit with the Rams.
“All I can speak to is my experiences with him and he’s been nothing but great. He’s an extremely mature player,’’ Rams coach Sean McVay said. “I always appreciate the dialogue we can have where he’s got such a great perspective based on his experiences. But then he’s also extremely intelligent with how he looks at the game.’’
Suh and Aaron Donald offer one of the biggest defensive line one-two punches in the NFL.
They will be a handful for the Lions’ offensive line which is responsible for some of the 22 sacks of Matthew Stafford in the last five games.
“I think those two play off each other really well. And Ndamukong’s versatility has been something that’s really been impressive to us as an organization,’’ McVay said. “I think he’s an extremely smart player. Clearly, he’s had an extremely productive career. And his presence has definitely been felt by our football team in a variety of positive ways and I think he and Aaron what’s unique is just watching those two kind of the give and take that occurs and the mutual respect that exists between to perennial All-Pro players. And we feel very fortunate to have Ndamukong here with us.”
They certainly will provide a challenge for the Lions’ offensive line.
“I think Donald, just in general, he’s a tremendous player. This guy has explosiveness off the ball, he has violent hands, he has great change of direction, short space quickness. I think there are a lot of situations where he takes great advantage of offensive linemen that have underset him or overset him,’’ Patricia said. “He really can read the offensive linemen when they set to the spot and try to put themselves in between the quarterback and the defender. He does a good job of manipulating those guys, moving them, maybe getting the overset, countering back underneath or getting them to underset, freezing them and getting back to the edge. And his quickness just really allows him to be able to do that.’’
In just 11 games, Donald owns a career-high with 14.5 sacks. Most of those (10.5) have come in the last five games. He’s also got 28 quarterback hits and 16 tackles for loss.
“And certainly, now with Suh inside and even with (Dante) Fowler on the edge, and like I said with (Michael) Brockers, it’s hard to kind of distribute help everywhere. Those guys are taking advantage of those opportunities where they do become one-on-one in those situations, and they’ve been able to capitalize (on) them in a big way,’’ Patricia added.