MIKE O'HARA

Ihedigbo ready to face the top QBs: 'It's exciting'

Posted Jun 17, 2015

Looking forward to this upcoming season, safety James Ihedigbo says he doesn’t mind facing a string of quarterbacks who’ve won Super Bowls and set records.

The second week in June is too early to sound the air raid siren, but safety James Ihedigbo is well aware of the air assault the Lions will be under throughout the 2015 regular season.

The cast of quarterbacks the Lions will face is a significant upgrade as a group over last year, and it starts with the opening game at San Diego on Sept. 13.

“We start out with Phillip Rivers on the road,” Ihedigbo said Tuesday after the opening practice of mandatory minicamp. “We see some of the best quarterbacks in the league in the first seven weeks.

“It’s exciting.”

Exciting, demanding, and with no letup after the start. Ihedigbo doesn’t mind facing a string of quarterbacks who’ve won Super Bowls and set records.

“It’s the NFL,” he said. “You’re going to go against the best of the best. That’s what we want. Right now we have to sharpen our skills and our tools. That’s what matters at this point.”

After the San Diego game, the Lions’ next six games and quarterback matchups are as follows:

Week 2: On the road against the Vikings and Teddy Bridgewater, who should be improved from a promising rookie year.

Week 3: Home against the Broncos and Peyton Manning.

Week 4: On the road against the Seahawks and Russell Wilson, the NFL’s top run-pass threat.

James IhedigboS James Ihedigbo (Photo: Detroit Lions)

Weeks 5: Home against the Cardinals and Carson Palmer.

Week 6: Home against the Bears and talented, but inconsistent, Jay Cutler.

Week 7: Home in a rematch with Bridgewater and the Vikings.

Later in the year the Lions have two games against the Packers and Aaron Rodgers, the NFL’s best quarterback, a road game against the Saints and Drew Brees, a home game against the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick and the season finale against the Bears and Cutler.

Maturity and change of venue add to the dilemma the Lions’ defense faces.

Bridgewater played like a rookie in losing two starts against the Lions, with five interceptions against one touchdown pass. He should benefit from a year’s experience.

The Lions should have a tougher time against Brees at the Superdome than they did in a 24-23 win over the Saints at Ford Field last year. Last year’s 3-5 home record was uncharacteristic for the Saints. They were 8-0 at home in the regular season in two of the three previous seasons.

The level of execution in Tuesday’s practice, when the defense went through 30 plays in 15 minutes because of a lack of mental breakdowns, was an indication to Ihedigbo that the defense can be good again.

 “It’s moving,” Ihedigbo said. “Coach (Jim) Caldwell has us moving at a high tempo. We’re putting that pressure on our opponents, offensively and defensively. For us, that’s moving, 30 plays in 15 minutes.

“You’re doing a lot of communicating. You’re getting through calls. Guys are doing the right things. We’re definitely heading in the right direction.”