If veteran defensive end
But at age 33, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz has taken Vanden Bosch’s practice schedule into his own hands and is giving him the veteran treatment.
Vanden Bosch missed the team’s final five games of the 2010 season with a neck injury and subsequently had neck fusion surgery following that season. As a result, the Lions monitored his practice reps last season, usually giving him Wednesday’s off practice during the season. The time off contributed to keeping Vanden Bosch fresh and he started all 16 games last season.
“We just wanted to try to take (away) as many opportunities that he could possibly wear and tear on his neck,” Schwartz said of Vanden Bosch, who did not participate in any team reps in the Lions’ mandatory minicamp June 12-15. “He had that fusion and all those different things.”
Schwartz alluded to the fact that Vanden Bosch’s practice time could be monitored during training camp this year, as well.
“We’ll have a plan for training camp,” Schwartz said. “We saw good results from that. He had one of the best years of his career last year and he means a lot to us and we need to keep him going.”
Vanden Bosch had a terrific 2011 season, finishing with 35 tackles, eight sacks and four forced fumbles in 16 games. His eight sacks were the third-most of his career (12.5 in 2005 and 12 in 2007) and his four forced fumbles ranked tied for fifth-most.
“I think Kyle has proved to me, to you, to the fans, to the janitors here, I think everybody knows what kind of guy he is,” Schwartz said. “We’ve just got to do whatever we can to keep him on the field."
Vanden Bosch has to be held back by coaches because his personality and work ethic won’t allow him to do it himself. He’s the hardest worker on the team. He practices the exact same way he plays on Sunday. The 11-year veteran never takes a play off and there’s never a runner too far down the field for Vanden Bosch to chase down.
Those practice habits have rubbed off on his teammates and the younger Lions players, who now join Vanden Bosch 30-yards downfield chasing running backs. But there comes a point when slowing Vanden Bosch down on the practice field might help keep him terrorizing opposing quarterbacks for at least two more seasons on the game field on Sundays (Vanden Bosch is signed through 2013).
“He’s been around for a long time, so what he does is he goes out during individual and he works really hard there and then he runs probably more than any player on the field on the side during practice,” Schwartz said.