Could the Detroit Lions elevate veteran edge rusher Bruce Irvin, 36, from the practice squad this week to play Sunday in New Orleans vs. the Saints? If that happens, Irvin said he'll be ready to make an impact.
"A lot," Irvin told detroitlions.com when asked this week how much he thinks he can help Detroit's pass rush. "I don't want to (make any predictions) but I think I can contribute quite a bit."
Irvin has 55.5 career sacks over 11 seasons with five different teams. He made 10 starts and appeared in 11 games with 3.5 sacks last year for Seattle.
Detroit has just 23 sacks on the season, which is tied for 26th in the NFL. The Lions' pass rush win rate of 36 percent ranks 28th. It's been very inconsistent all season with 18 of the their 23 sacks on the year coming in three contests. They've been held without a sack in four games.
Detroit could certainly use the help and Irvin said he feels good after the coaching staff gave him a couple weeks to get into football shape.
"I'm just fortunate they let me get myself together," Irvin said. "They didn't rush me. They put me on a program and followed it and it's been good for me. I feel like I've done everything to be in the best possible shape and position I can. I'm excited."
Irvin appreciated the time the Lions gave him to get ready because he didn't go through OTAs or training camp this year. Now he wants to reward them with some impact plays on defense.
"For them to let me come in and get adjusted and get into football shape was really big for me and I really appreciate it," he said.
If the Saints' offense gets down toward the goal line Sunday afternoon, Detroit's defense knows they're likely to see a familiar foe in New Orleans' backfield: Running back Jamaal Williams.
Williams was a 1,000-yard rusher in Detroit last year and scored 17 touchdowns.
"Here's what we do know about him as a player, he's tough, he's competitive," Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said Thursday. "Anywhere when it's short yardage at goal line, man we have to be on top of it because he's superb in those situations.
"And our guys know that from being here. The new guys are just finding that out just watching tape of him. And I know he's going to be juiced up. Just like I'm going to be juiced up, just like Dan's (Campbell) going to be juiced up. I mean he played here for a couple years, and he wants to kick our (butt) just like we want to kick theirs."
Williams has dealt with injuries this season and has been far less effective for the Saints, rushing 47 times for 137 yards with no touchdowns in seven games. Still, no team knows better than Detroit how much of a weapon Williams can be in those goal-to-goal situations.
If Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson had any questions about New Orleans' defense this week and he wanted a little bit of inside information, he had two great resources to bounce ideas off in head coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, who both spent five seasons with the Saints coaching staff.
"Yeah, and no question, he's got some insight," Johnson said of Glenn in particular. "We might see some things on tape and ask him, 'Hey, what exactly is going on here?' Because they have a lot of scheme. They play a lot of coverages, very good players in the front and on the backend, they're about as aggressive as a backend as we've seen."
The Saints are No. 4 in the NFL in takeaways (20) and are top eight in points allowed and top 12 in total defense. Johnson and the Lions' offense will be tested this week.
"They're going to get up, they're going to challenge us," Johnson said of the Saints. "Our receivers have got to – they're going to have to buckle up and be ready to go this week, probably more so than what we've seen so far this year.
"So, AG's been really good in kind of creating a little clarity for us and then when AG first got here, very similar schematics and so the guys that were here that first year, and some of last year, kind of – they really know, they really know what that style of defense is about. So, I do think the veteran guys in the group, they won't be surprised by the physical style of play that this defense has."