By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Linebacker Stephen Tulloch insisted Tuesday that the absence of star defensive tackle and team captain Ndamukong Suh does not distract the rest of the team and said the media makes it a bigger issue than it really is.
However, after a long line of questioning about the proverbial elephant in the room – or rather the proverbial elephant not in the room – Tulloch stated the obvious. While obvious, the statement was one that other players had shied away from making.
“We all would like him to be here, yes, obviously, it’s Suh!” Tulloch exclaimed. “But we know Suh’s going to be ready when he’s here.”
Another team captain, Dominic Raiola, expressed similar sentiments, though he danced around the issue a little more.
“It’s voluntary,” Raiola said. “I’m not going to say it’s right. I’m not going to say it’s wrong. We’d love to have him here. We miss him, but like I said, he’ll be here when he’s here. I’m not going to say it’s wrong, I’m not going to say it’s right, but he’ll be here when he’s ready.”
That Suh has reportedly decided to forego working out with the Lions in favor of staying with his own trainers has become a hot-button issue among fans and media, but Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush and James Ihedigbo all defended Suh when they spoke with media April 10.
New head coach Jim Caldwell, however, made it clear right off the bat that he wanted Suh to show up to the team workouts.
“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 told reporters April 10. “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. But we’re working. We’ve got a great group, they’re focused, and we’re making progress.”
Caldwell brushed away a follow-up question that day, but even that refusal revealed his feelings on the matter.
“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.”
Caldwell reiterated his stance on Suh’s absence Tuesday, when one reporter asked, essentially, why Caldwell could not make Suh come to Allen Park.
“Have you looked at the NFL rules lately and what you can and cannot say?” Caldwell said with a wry smile. “These are voluntary. And I think I’ve addressed his situation clearly and enough.
“We’d love to have every guy here every single day, not just on this particular practice, I’m talking about all of them, but that’s not the way it is,” Caldwell added, “so we’ll leave it at that.”
Caldwell said he and Suh have discussed Suh’s upcoming schedule but would not reveal any details.
“We have talked about it, and it may change and adjust,” Caldwell said. “When he shows up, he’ll be here.”