LIONS INSIDER

Ndamukong Suh and Jim Washburn clicked right from the start

Posted Jul 31, 2013

Washburn says Suh is right up there with the likes of Albert Haynesworth, and has a chance to be a "special" player in this league

Jim Washburn has been a defensive line coach in the NFL going on 15 seasons now. During that span, some terrific players have rolled through his defensive lines, including Albert Haynesworth and Jevon Kearse.

Jim WashburnDefensive Line/Pass Rush Specialist Jim Washburn

But Washburn thinks Ndamukong Suh can trump them all.

"Yes, he's up there right now," Washburn said when asked if Suh could be the best he's ever had. "The best defensive tackle I ever coached is Albert Haynesworth. They are different, but shoot, Albert didn't take it near as serious as Suh does.

"I'll tell you this, you hear a lot of things about a lot of people, but to me, Suh is a dream come true for a coach. He wants to do everything right, whether it's eating or training. I think he wants to be the best defensive tackle in football and one of the best in history. He's a dream come true to be around and I'm really fortunate to be around him and some of the other guys here."

Suh called Washburn shortly after he accepted the job with Detroit to offer his congratulations. The two immediately clicked and almost immediately got to work – along with co-defensive line coach Kris Kocurek -- trying to make Suh better.

"I respect and enjoy being around Washburn because within days of meeting him and being able to work with him he taught me a lot," Suh said.

"Anybody who can come in and really just teach me a lot and give me a different perspective from Kris (Kocurek), and then now the combination of the both of them, it's something that's irreplaceable."

Suh, who was named to his second Pro Bowl team last year after a 35-tackle, eight-sack performance, said Washburn broke down the tape from last year and gave him a few very specific things he wanted him to improve on that he thought would help him.

"He took the approach with me giving me a small amount of things to look at … and some key things, that if I do these things, then I'll be able to get to the next level of where I want to be," Suh said.

"He obviously has that idea of where I want to be, so it's something exciting and something I definitely appreciate. He's going to have a tremendous impact on our success this year."

The immediate benefit for the Lions in hiring Washburn -- aside from his proven track record of developing linemen -- is he knows the defense. Heck, he helped build it.

"Jim (Schwartz) and I all together came up with this defense in Tennessee," Washurn said of his time together in Tennessee with Schwartz from 1999 to 2008, when Schwartz was a defensive assistant and then defensive coordinator and Washburn the defensive line coach.

"I'm no expert, but I know what it's supposed to look like. (Suh) was doing some things and I thought I could help him a little bit."

Suh reported to training camp in the best condition of his career and is much more of a vocal presence in practice. He seems different. He seems to be having a lot more fun.

"Before we go pass rush every day he walks over and fist bumps every offensive lineman," Washburn said of Suh. "Somebody said he's questionable as teammate.  Are you kidding me? He's a good teammate."

As for the type of player he thinks Suh can become ...

"He has a chance to be special," Washburn said. "He's fun. He makes me want to come to work."