ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Ndamukong Suh and the Detroit Lions’ veteran players arrived Sunday for the start of training camp.
Barring an unexpected turn in negotiations, Suh will take the field Monday afternoon for the team’s first practice without the contract extension that the Lions were hoping to sign him to during the offseason.
Suh, entering his fifth year in the NFL, could become a free agent after this season. The fact he hasn’t signed a new deal yet has led to speculation that he might be looking to go elsewhere.
Coach Jim Caldwell, however, indicated he believes a deal "absolutely" will get done to keep the All-Pro defensive tackle with the Lions past this year.
"Tom (team president Tom Lewand) and Martin (general manager Martin Mayhew) and ownership will get that taken care of," Caldwell said. "I’ve been through it a few times. I’ve been through it with Peyton (Manning), been through it most recently with Flacco (Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco).
"There’s a number of guys going through that throughout the league. Our team’s no different.
"I’m always optimistic. I think, without question, they’re working at it. It will get done at the appropriate time."
Suh wasn’t available for comment Sunday, but he’s expected to meet with the media sometime in the near future.
Caldwell dismissed the idea that the contract situation could become a distraction during his first season on the job.
"He’s in the best shape he’s ever been in," Caldwell said of Suh. "He’s got a great attitude. I don’t think he’s going to let anything distract him. I’m not worried about it."
Two of Suh’s teammates also suggested that the potential for a distraction is a non-issue as far as they’re concerned.
"He’s here, he’s a Detroit Lion," center Dominic Raiola said. "The guy looks more like Adonis now. I think he cut out more body fat and put on more weight, which is scary.
"I don’t think it’s going to be a distraction."
Linebacker Stephen Tulloch expects nothing but the best from Suh.
"I know that 90’s (Suh’s number) going to come to work every day and practice harder than probably anybody on the field next to Calvin (Johnson)," Tulloch said. "He hasn’t been a distraction to us. It doesn’t affect us. He’s under contract. (When) that contract expires then we can all panic and worry."
For now, Tulloch is going to continue to enjoy reaping the benefits of having the mammoth 6-foot-4, 307-pound Suh in front of him on the Lions’ defense.
"He’s dominant," Tulloch said. "He makes my job easier. As long as I’m here, I’d like to have him here. It doesn’t always show in his stats, but he creates havoc."
The question still to be determined is who will Suh be creating havoc for in 2015?