MIKE O'HARA

O'Hara: Ndamukong Suh has a 'no limits' standard to what he can accomplish

Posted Jul 27, 2013

How high has the bar been set for Suh this season? He'd rather not put any limitations on his ability

Any limits used to chart the upward progression of Ndamukong Suh's career arc might be better judged by those who study the universe rather than by standard football stats.

Ndamukong SuhDT Ndamukong Suh

Suh has a "no limits" standard for what he can accomplish as he begins his fourth season playing defensive tackle for the Lions.

The sky might be the limit.

Then again, the boundaries might extend much further beyond the territory that mere football mortals have explored in the search to rate and grade defensive linemen.

How high has the bar been set for Suh in 2013?

"I don't want to put any limitations on my ability," Suh said after Saturday morning's training camp practice. "I want to be able to leave it open ended and have an opportunity to let the sky be the limit

"If the sky's the limit, let the universe be the limit."

And if the universe is not the limit? We might have to turn to renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking to explore the limits in the Hubble Extreme Deep Field.

Back here on Mother Earth, on football fields that are 100 yards long and 160 feet wide, Suh is at the point in his career where his name is included in any discussion of the NFL's most dominant defensive tackles.

He is coming off a second Pro Bowl season in three years as a Lion, and his offseason workout program, which he is known to approach zealously, reached new heights -- but no limits -- this year. Suh aced the mandatory conditioning test coach Jim Schwartz put all players through Thursday evening.

"Ndamukong's always been the guy that's been in great shape, but I think he took it to a different level this year," Schwartz said. "Quite honestly, he made a mockery of the conditioning test. He really did.

"Calvin (Johnson) does that every year, too. Calvin can run his times and barely even break a sweat, and I think that's what those great athletes do. Ndamukong did that."

Suh is reaching new dimensions that go with his experience and performance. He spoke Saturday about when he was a younger pro and learned from older teammates such as Kyle Vanden Bosch, who stepped into a leadership role when he came to the Lions as a free agent in 2010, Suh's rookie year.

Nick Fairley, the starting tackle next to Suh, reported to camp for his third pro season in the best shape of his young career. Suh saw that as part of the natural development curve that he has experienced.

"Nick is just coming into who he is," Suh said. "He always had it in him, since the first time I met him – the Super Bowl in Dallas (before the 2011 draft). He's always had the ability to be very strong and athletic.

"We all go through that curve. I had to go through that curve. I was fortunate enough to sit next to Kyle Vanden Bosch and guys like that and learn from a great pro."

Young players -- such as rookie defensive end Ziggy Ansah and second-year cornerback Bill Bentley -- are following Suh now. But it's reciprocal for Suh.

"I think it's a natural progression," he said. "I think they kind of understand I've been able to be successful in our scheme, although I'm still learning myself and I'm still young.

"I think there are some good things I can take from our younger guys."

If misery really does love company, Suh wants to make life miserable for the company he attracts on the field. He actually looks forward to the constant double-teams he commands because of the power and relentless effort that are part of his game.

"Always, hopefully, I will demand a double team," he said when asked about the scheme and makeup of the defensive line. "Of course I'd love to have single-team on all plays. I'm doing my job if I'm demanding a double team. My next goal is to beat a double team on a consistent basis."