By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Ndamukong Suh should be at voluntary workouts because new head coach Jim Caldwell wanted him there.
In case you missed it, here is what Caldwell had to say Thursday about Suh’s absence.
“My business is to get into a position to win and win consistently, and so we want every single minute of every single hour with every single player,” Caldwell said. “That’s the way we want it. The rules don’t always lend to that type of attitude, but nevertheless, that’s the way it is.”
Caldwell said he and Suh have talked frequently, including about whether Suh would attend the voluntary workouts, but the coach declined to go into detail. However, Caldwell also declined to give Suh a pass on not attending.
“I told you my feelings on it, what I would like to have done,” Caldwell said. “It’s just kind of the way it is at this point in time.”
Suh’s boss – his brand-new boss – wanted him at these workouts. Nobody doubts that Suh will show up to the mandatory minicamp in June in great shape, playing the defensive tackle position as dominantly as usual.
For the Lions to have any shot at success, however, they need more than just an in-shape Suh. They need a cohesive team. They need players who put the team high on their list of priorities. They need leadership by example.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Reggie Bush were both at the facility Thursday and spoke to media. Throughout this week, various players have stated that “most” of the team – or even “everybody,” as Bush put it before clarifying that “everybody” does not include Suh – is attending these workouts, optional though they may be.
As an individual, Suh will probably continue to be one of the best in the league at his position. As a team, however, the Lions have shown in recent years that they need some help.
Suh could help. Can you imagine what a powerful message Suh could send by announcing he would forgo his individual workouts with his favorite trainers because it was more important for him to be working with his team as it tries to create a new environment under a new coach? It could be huge. Suh could set an example not just in work ethic, which he reportedly does already, but in commitment to the Lions and in support of Caldwell.
You can argue about whether voluntary workouts matter in terms of physical preparation, whether they matter in terms of mental preparation, whether they matter in terms of team chemistry, whether the players care about how many people show up. What you cannot argue is that Caldwell wanted Suh there.
Based on that alone, Suh should be at these workouts, voluntary or not.