DE Cliff Avril named NFC Defensive Player of the Week

Posted Nov 1, 2011

Defensive end Cliff Avril has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his Week 8 performance at Denver.

He finished the game with two sack-fumbles, also recovering one and returning it 24 yards for his first-career touchdown.

"It's cool to get a little recognition out of all the hard work you put in day-in and day-out," said Avril. "I definitely appreciate this - for them to want to give me, out of all the players that are in our conference, this award."

Avril was drafted in 2008 - the year before Head Coach Jim Schwartz arrived in Detroit. With the coaching change, he made the transition to a new scheme and philosophy in 2009.

It was the 2010 season that really made a difference for Avril. Current defensive line coach Kris Kocurek took over and the Lions signed free agent defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch.

"Kris Kocurek is a players’ coach and he really believed in me," said Avril. "I think that gave me more motivation as a younger player to go out there and play.

"Then bringing Kyle in was probably the No. 1 thing to influence my career. He has taught me how to become a pro; basically how to play in the NFL."

Becoming a pro for Avril has been an off-the-field process that has translated to better performances on the field.

He and Vanden Bosch break down film every Tuesday - the players' day off - before the coaches go over it with the team on Wednesday.

"I play the game differently," says Avril. "The game has slowed down for me now. Compared to my first two years, I notice more within the game; things that help me get off the ball faster or things that tell me whether it will be a pass or a run.

"Kyle has taught me to look at those things and, as I've grown and become a better player, I'm now starting to notice them on my own."