LIONS INSIDER

Ngata more comfortable his second season in Detroit

Posted Aug 6, 2016

After starting last training camp on the NFI list, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is benefiting from a healthy offseason this time around.

It is amazing the difference a year can make.

This time last year, Detroit Lions defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was watching practice in shorts and a sun hat while on the active/non-football injury list with a hamstring injury.

Fast forward one season and Ngata looks and feels like his old self again. He’s healthy, stronger and now comfortable with both his surroundings in Detroit and Teryl Austin’s defensive scheme. As a result, he’s caused havoc for the interior offensive linemen so far through camp.

“I feel more comfortable,” Ngata said. “I’ve definitely been feeling more comfortable and continue to get more confident.

“Coming in, I already know the system. I’ve been around it for a little bit now. I’m not watching trying to learn still. It definitely makes it easier.”

We saw the kind of impact a healthy Ngata can have in the middle of Detroit's defense the second half of last season. The goal is to hit the ground running in September, and have that same impact for an entire year.

The Lions still haven’t seen what kind of impact Ngata and fellow starter Tyrunn Walker can have together when healthy. Ngata played through injury to begin the season, and Walker’s season lasted just three and a half games before he broke his leg and dislocated his ankle in Seattle Week 4.

“T-Walk is an awesome young player that’s getting this down just like I am,” Ngata said. “We both came from a 3-4 system and learned this (scheme) at kind of the same time, so it’s exciting to be with T-Walk.”

Austin’s system is an attacking scheme upfront. There’s no read and react here, and it’s easier for defensive linemen to play in, because it allows them a little more freedom.

“He’s hard to handle because he’s a big, powerful man that can run,” Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said of Ngata. “We’re getting a sense of that now.

“Last year he was a bit hampered a little. You didn’t quite get to see who he truly can be. You saw it in spurts last year. I think you’re going to see it more consistently this year.

“That power and explosiveness down there in the trenches, when he lines up on the edge of an offensive lineman, you’ve got to think twice about how you’re going to handle him schematically.”