Willie Young isn't worried about anything but producing in 2013

Posted May 14, 2013

After signing a one-year contact this offseason, Young is viewing 2013 as a job interview, only focused on production in the fall

In four preseason games last year, Willie Young recorded a sack, an interception, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and blocked a punt. It was the kind of preseason that left a lot of people wondering what the regular season might have in store for the former seventh-round pick of the Lions in 2010.

Once the regular season rolled around, Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch assumed their starting roles and Young was again a backup. He still got an opportunity to play 323 snaps in 16 games, but produced 11 tackles and no sacks.

It's safe to say that wasn't what Young or the Lions were hoping for.

The team then offered Young a second-round restricted free agent tender worth $2.023 million this offseason, but he ultimately signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract.

The contract gives Young one more season to fulfill the promise he showed for that month in August last year.

Young said he's viewing the 2013 season as a job interview, and he isn't worrying about anything other than getting better and producing on Sundays in the fall.

It's a mentality that stems from a conversation he had last year with linebacker Justin Durant, who was in the final season of a two-year deal he signed with Detroit back in 2011.

"It may have been a dumb question to ask him, but I felt the need to ask it," Young said. "I asked him if he felt any pressure to perform and whether his contract situation was on his mind and (whether it) bothered him.

"He was like, ‘what do you think? Obviously, it's on my mind.'

"But he told me there were two ways to look at it. You could either worry about this contract and not perform to the best of your ability and you're sitting at home in your living room this time next year, or, basically, say the hell with the contract and show up on Sundays and extend your career. That's one thing you can control by your play on the field."

Willie YoungDE Willie Young

Young said he's taken that bit of advice to heart and is choosing to do the latter.

He's not worrying about the one-year contract he signed last month or whom the Lions signed in free agency or drafted at his position.

"Jim Washburn said the other day, ‘hey, (you're) on a one-year contract and we don't have time to take a step backwards.' The way I took that from him was -- am I going to perform and hope for a long-term contract?"

Young should get plenty of opportunities to make plays this year, even with the additions of free agent Jason Jones and draft picks Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah and Devin Taylor at the defensive end position.

The Lions do like to rotate their ends in and out quite frequently throughout a game and there could even be times when three defensive ends are in the game at one time.

"I'm not concerning myself with anything else that I can't control," Young said. "All I'm worried about is right here, right now, getting better every day and going out and performing.

"I'm not going to be distracted by who's behind me, who's in front of me or who I'm going against. I won't allow myself to be distracted by that and I'm just going to keep moving forward. The only pressure I have is the pressure that I've put on myself."