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.