By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – On the cusp on free agency and armed with a new agent, star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has been a topic all offseason, even more so than usual because he has not participated in any of the team’s voluntary workouts.
That could change as early as Tuesday, when the Lions begin their last phase of the offseason training program. OTAs are scheduled for May 20-22, May 27-29 and June 2-5. New Lions head coach Jim Caldwell has high hopes for overall attendance, and the optimism evidently extends even to Suh.
Caldwell said he and Suh keep in contact, talking and texting, and he seemed to hint that Suh will – finally – be showing up this week.
“Do I know that he’ll be here?” Caldwell said Sunday. “I would anticipate that he will be here.
“He’s a great player, and he’s also got great leadership ability as well,” Caldwell added, “so to have him back here working amongst the group is going to be a great time for everybody.”
Of course, the caveat is that the Lions cannot force Suh to attend, so if he does not want to participate, he does not have to do so.
“What we’d like to see and our expectations may be a little bit different because the rules don’t dictate that everybody has to be here, but we anticipate, much like the rest of our OTAs, we’ve had unbelievable participation, and we’re anticipating it’s going to be the same,” Caldwell said. “I think you’ll see that we’ll have a great group here, ready to work, and we’ll find a way to get better.”
Caldwell has made it clear several times this offseason that he would like for Suh to be present, but he maintains that the star’s absence does not reflect poorly on Suh’s leadership abilities. Throughout his tenure in the NFL, Caldwell said he has seen plenty of other high-profile players decline to attend offseason workouts but still flourish in the regular season.
“I can cite you so many different examples of guys that maybe weren’t here during the time period that did a tremendous job just in terms of their leadership and those kinds of things, and I don’t expect him to be any different,” Caldwell said. “I think he’ll fit into that category as opposed to any other category you’ll like to slide him into.”