NOTEBOOK: Lions practice without Ndamukong Suh

Posted Apr 22, 2014

Ndamukong Suh, Chris Houston and Carlin Isles were the only three players missing from the Lions' first voluntary minicamp practice.

The Lions had their first voluntary minicamp practice on Tuesday.

After three months of watching film and seeing players only in meeting rooms, the coaching staff finally got a chance to get on the field with the players.

Of the 75 players currently on the roster, and five more trying out to make the team, only three players weren’t spotted at Tuesday’s first practice – Ndamukong Suh, Chris Houston and Carlin Isles.

Houston’s absence is injury related, according to head coach Jim Caldwell, and Isles is overseas playing Rugby.

Suh, a captain last year, has opted not to participate in any offseason workouts so far this season.

Suh has been a part-time participant in the offseason training program in years past, but this is the first time in his tenure with the Lions they’ve been afforded an extra minicamp because they now have a new coaching staff.

It’s an important time of installation for Caldwell, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, and more importantly for Suh, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.

“Since I’ve been here he’s always been a professional in terms of taking care of himself and being ready,” linebacker Stephen Tulloch said. “It’s voluntary workouts. I understand he’s a captain but Suh is the last person I’m worried about not being prepared.”

Suh is in the midst of negotiating a new contract that could make him the highest-paid defensive tackle in all of football.

It’s been reported by the Associated Press that Suh plans to attend the OTA portion of the offseason program, as well as June’s mandatory minicamp.

“When he gets here he’ll pick up his end of the bargain,” center Dominic Raiola said. “It’s voluntary. I’m not going to say it’s right. I’m not going to say it’s wrong. We’d love to have him here and we miss him, but like I said, he’ll be here when he’s here."

This minicamp is voluntary, and per NFL rules, Caldwell declined to talk about Suh’s absence other than to reiterate comments he’s made earlier this offseason that coaches always want every player in the building.

It’s voluntary. It’s not any different, and I think I’ve addressed that enough. I think I went over it,” Caldwell said.

“If you look at my statements before, like I told you, my business is coaching. We’d love to have every guy here every single day, not just on this particular practice. I’m talking about all of them. But that’s not the way it is. So we’ll leave it at that and I’ll answer anything else.”


Calvin JohnsonWR Calvin Johnson (Photo: Gavin Smith)

There were a number of players this offseason who underwent medical procedures to fix nagging injuries.

Receiver Calvin Johnson had knee and finger surgery. Safety Glover Quin had an ankle cleaned out. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah underwent shoulder surgery.

Those players, along with nine others, were at Tuesday’s first training camp practice but were either limited or didn’t participate in the actual practice itself.

Also sitting out were receiver Ryan Broyles, running back Joique Bell, fullback Jed Collins, tight end Brandon Pettigrew, guard Rob Sims, defensive end Jason Jones, linebacker Ashlee Palmer and cornerback Jonte Green.


It’s only been one day, but Caldwell told media members after Tuesday’s practice he can already see a rapport between quarterback Matthew Stafford and his new receiving weapon Golden Tate.

“Matthew is certainly getting a good feel for Golden,” Caldwell said. “Those two I think are going to function well.”


The Lions have added more depth to their defensive line for the start of minicamp with the signing of former Minnesota Vikings defensive end George Johnson.

Johnson, 6-foot-4, 265 pounds, was signed by Tampa Bay after going undrafted out of Rutgers in 2010. He played the last two seasons in Minnesota after spending his first three years with the Bucs.

Johnson has appeared in 11 career games and has seven career tackles.


It’s normal around this time for the Lions to give tryout players three days to make the roster.

The team has brought in five players for a closer look. Center Kevin Matthews, guard Sherman Carter, guard Josh Jenkins, tackle Cordaro Howard and tight end Jordan Thompson.

Matthews played the last four seasons for the Tennessee Titans and made two starts in 2012 and has played in 17 career games with three starts. He did not appear in a game last year.

Carter played center last season for the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League. Jenkins was in camp with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent last year. Howard made four starts at guard for the Buffalo Bills in 2010 but hasn’t been on an NFL roster since 2012. Thompson, who played his college ball at Ohio, went undrafted last year after catching 60 passes for 666 yards and five touchdowns over his college career.