Jones, Young could be crucial at DE for Lions

Jason Jones signed with Detroit this offseason. Willie Young has
been on the Lions for a while now.

They do have one thing in common, though – this training camp is
a chance for both defensive ends to earn a bigger role for
2013.

When Detroit cut veteran Kyle Vanden Bosch and lost Cliff Avril
via free agency, the Lions suddenly needed to replace both starting
defensive ends from last season.

First-round draft pick Ziggy Ansah could fill one of those
spots, but the more experienced Jones and Young are competing for
playing time as well.

Whoever is on the ends of the line will have to produce to
prevent offenses from gearing up too much against defensive tackles
Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.

”We’ve got two big guys in the middle who are wreaking havoc
and causing a lot of trouble and confusion,” Young said. ”It’s
going to be critical that we set solid, strong edges, so those guys
can play around in the middle.”

Avril flourished at times in Detroit’s defensive scheme. He had
29 sacks over the past three seasons before signing with Seattle.
The Lions, meanwhile, nabbed a defensive end from the Seahawks when
they signed Jones.

After 12 games with Seattle last season – and no starts – the
6-foot-5, 276-pound Jones returns to the Detroit area. He is from
nearby Southfield and went to Eastern Michigan.

”Just coming back in and having the opportunity to start in the
NFL is big anywhere,” Jones said. ”Playing with the guys here
right now, I think the sky’s the limit for us.”

Jones started 28 games in the 2010 and 2011 seasons with the
Tennessee Titans. He has 18 1/2 sacks in his five-year career.

Although he’s never started, Young played all 16 games last
season for the Lions. Now Avril and Vanden Bosch are gone, meaning
he could be on the field more this year.

”That’s a part of the business,” Young said. ”It’s definitely
an opportunity for myself and every defensive end.”

Jones and Ansah are listed as the starters on Detroit’s depth
chart, with Young and Israel Idonije the top backups. Young was
drafted in the seventh round in 2010.

”I think that he has skills that fit what we need from that
position,” coach Jim Schwartz said. ”He’s playing with another
increase in understanding. He’s a young veteran player now. He’s
not a young player anymore.”

Ansah was taken with the fifth overall pick in this year’s
draft. Detroit is counting on the former Brigham Young standout to
develop into a star despite limited experience. He grew up in
Ghana, playing soccer and basketball, before playing football for
the first time in 2010.

Schwartz told reporters not to focus too much on whether Ansah
works with the starters or the backups during training camp.

”Reps are reps in camps. … The only guys that are worried
about what group people are running with are you guys,” Schwartz
said. ”Our guys are just out there practicing and trying to get as
many reps as they can and trying to do well in the reps that they
get. Ziggy is no different than the other guys in that
regard.”

Once the season starts, Detroit’s pecking order at defensive end
should be a lot more clear.

”Ziggy Ansah, Idonije, Jason Jones, just take those three guys
and if there was a curtain in front of them, you couldn’t pick out
who was who,” defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said.
”They are really good people. I think that runs through the
defense.”

NOTES: The Lions claimed LB Adrian Moten off waivers. … S
Louis Delmas (left knee) said he’s preparing as if he’ll play in
Friday night’s exhibition game against the New York Jets – but he’s
not sure if he will or not.