LIONS INSIDER

Twentyman: Avril's the healthiest he's been in awhile, and it shows

Posted Dec 6, 2012

Over the course of his last three games, Avril has four sacks and two forced fumbles, increasing his sack total to a team-leading 8.5.

Cliff Avril is the healthiest he’s been in almost two months and it’s showing in the stat book.

Over the course of his last three games, Avril has four sacks and two forced fumbles, increasing his sack total to a team-leading 8.5. That ranks in the top 12 in the league.

“I don’t want to make excuses, but I definitely feel a lot better than I’ve felt in about a month and half or two months,” Avril said after practice Wednesday.

Avril has been dealing with a back injury since the first month of the season. He initially suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of a Week 4 loss to the Vikings.

“Yeah, I think that particularly after the break of Thanksgiving I think that’s got a chance to be behind him,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of Avril's injury.

Avril is on pace to match the career-best 11 sacks he had last season and says now that he's healthy he's excited to show how much more of a complete rusher he is this season than last year.

“Everybody knows I’m a speed rusher,” Avril said. “I want to incorporate (different things) into my game so I have more to counter off of. Fortunately, now I’m feeling better and I can work on that stuff.”

Avril said he’s been studying other speed rushers like John Abraham and Julius Peppers to see how they counter the speed rush with other elements in their game.

He could potentially have some fresh meat to try out some of those techniques on in Green Bay Sunday night.

The Packers are already without right tackle Brian Bulaga. T.J. Lang, who shifted over from guard to play right tackle in the first meeting with the Lions, and left last week’s game with an ankle injury and is questionable for Sunday.

“Well, we have a number of injuries and we just… you know we repped Don (Barclay) there today and (we're) getting him ready," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said of his situation at right tackle. “We’re actually working a number of different combinations because our injury to T.J. Lang hasn’t shown a whole lot of clarity.”

That could leave the undrafted rookie Barclay trying to keep Avril, one of the leagues best young rushers, off Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

That should have Avril perking up his seat a little bit this week.

Avril is an unrestricted free agent at season's end after playing the year under the team's franchise tag worth $10.6 million. He and the Lions tried to come to an agreement on a long-term deal before the season and could not.

If he continues to play like he has the last three weeks over the last month of the season, it could be hard for the Lions to keep him without breaking the bank.