By Ashley Dunkak

CBS DETROIT – Former Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz gave a glowing endorsement Thursday of All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who is set to become a free agent next week.

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Many teams will likely pursue Suh, and Schwartz indicated in a podcast on that whichever team lands Suh is in for a treat.

“They’re going to get somebody that’s very serious about football,” Schwartz said. “They’re going to get somebody that’s always prepared, someone that takes the game very seriously, that works extremely hard, and it shows on Sundays, been incredibly consistent over his career. It’s not an accident that he’s stayed healthy for all that time. He practices well, he prepares very well, he’s very serious about getting his rest during the week.

“All those different things go into your production on Sunday, and he’s going to do all those little things,” Schwartz continued. “The offseason, he’s going to make sure that he’s hitting all those milestones along the way, or mile markers along the way, to get himself ready for the OTAs, to get himself ready for training camp and therefore be ready for the season. A guy, like I said, very serious about the game. It’s very important for him to be a good player, and it’s important for him to be there for his teammates and produce on Sunday.”

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Schwartz said the way Suh goes about his job not only makes him successful but also sets a standard for players around him, especially the younger ones.

“Whoever signs him not only is going to get a very good football player, an outstanding football player, but … when a high-priced player comes onto your team or stays on your team, if he re-signs with Detroit, it’s such a good example to the younger players,” Schwartz continued. “When Ndamukong was a rookie, we had just signed Kyle Vanden Bosch, who might have been the best practice player that I’ve ever been around, the toughest guy, the hardest worker. Ndamukong, when he first came into the NFL, that was the leader of the room. That was the guy who set that example, he was the high-priced free agent, he was the productive Pro Bowl player, and Ndamukong got to learn from that.

“He was already a hard worker,” Schwartz added, “but just to see that, I think that’s been a big influence with him. Both guys went to University of Nebraska, they both had a lot of respect for each other, and I think you’ve seen that, you’ve seen Ndamukong grow over the course of his career into a leadership role, and a lot of that leadership is how he prepares on a weekly basis.”

Suh, a four-time All-Pro, finished the regular season with 8.5 sacks, his highest total since his rookie season of 2010. The Lions defense thrived in no small part because of him, and the unit – under new coordinator Teryl Austin – ranked as the best in the NFL for much of the season.

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The Lions have repeatedly expressed optimism they will re-sign Suh, but other teams can contact Suh’s agent Jimmy Sexton beginning Saturday. At this point, it seems likely that Suh will hear out his other suitors before he decides whether to stay with the Lions.