Youth movement: Lions defense features only one player over 29 years old

Posted Jun 2, 2013

Despite the youth on the defensive side of the ball, seven players will be entering at least their fifth year of experience

The Detroit Lions made it their mission this offseason to get bigger, stronger and faster on defense.

One byproduct of that approach has been sort of a youth movement. In fact, veteran cornerback Ron Bartell is the only player on that side of the football over 29 years old.

Rob BartellCB Ron Bartell (Photo: T. Altman/

"We didn't look to say we needed a youth movement or we were trying to get younger. I think it just happened," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. "We had drafted and had a lot of those players in there. I think it's just the way it's worked out."

The Lions 11 projected starters on defense heading into training camp average 25.8 years of age this year. Last season, the 11 starters on defense averaged 26.8 years heading into the opening game vs. St. Louis.

But despite the youth movement on defense, seven players will be entering their fifth year of experience or more. This is becoming a young, but experienced unit.

Linebacker Stephen Tulloch in entering his eighth season in the league, but is still only 28.

"As you grow in the league as a player getting older, you understand that you have to keep working," Tulloch said. "Guys understand that we're still young as a team and the clock is ticking and we need to make things happen."

The 2013 season will be defensive end Jason Jones' sixth in the league, and he's only 26.

Cornerback Chris Houston is entering his seventh season at 28 and Glover Quin, 27, is entering his fifth season.

"Even though we're young, a lot of those guys like Chris Houston, Stephen Tulloch, those guys are veteran players," Schwartz said.

"Those guys have been around. They came into the NFL very young. So, Glover Quin, (Louis) Delmas, Chris Houston, (DeAndre) Levy, Tulloch, those guys have played a lot of football in the NFL even though they're still under the age of 30."