ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Ndamukong Suh is skipping the Detroit Lions’ first voluntary minicamp under coach Jim Caldwell.
And his teammates insisted they did not have a big problem it.
”We’re not distracted by Suh,” Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch said Tuesday. ”I think the media makes it bigger than it is. We know what 90 can do, and we know he’ll be here and prepared to play.”
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When Caldwell was asked why he didn’t tell the two-time All-Pro defensive tackle to show up, he chuckled.
”Have you looked at the NFL rules lately and what you can and cannot say?” Caldwell asked a reporter. ”These are voluntary, and I think I’ve addressed his situation probably clearly and enough.”
Clearly, the Lions are tired of talking about Suh just as they have been when he has been suspended and fined for on-field actions in the past.
Instead a lot of questions and answers focused on a new coach and newcomers such as wide receiver Golden Tate and safety James Ihedigbo, a player who wasn’t even at team headquarters was the story of the day.
”It’s drawing attention that we don’t need around here right now,” Lions center Dominic Raiola acknowledged.
A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Monday night that Suh will attend organized team activities in May and a mandatory minicamp the next month. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Suh was not announcing his plans.
Suh is entering the last year of his contract, and the team has said it is having ”civil and productive,” negotiations about a long-term deal.
”Whatever situation him and management are working out, he’ll work out soon enough,” Tulloch said. ”And, he’ll be here to help the team win.”
Suh has stayed away from voluntary workouts during his four-year career, and the 6-foot-4, 307-pound Suh has always gotten himself physically ready to play.
He has not missed a game because of an injury. He was suspended for two games in 2011 for stomping on an opponent and has been fined seven times for more than $200,000 by the NFL for his on-field conduct.
”Since I’ve been here, he’s always been a professional when it comes to taking care of himself and being ready,” Tulloch said. ”I know wherever he’s at right now he’s working hard and I know he has a playbook.”
Detroit does have a new scheme on both sides of the ball because coach Jim Schwartz was fired after the team flopped to a 7-9 finish.
Suh became a captain last season, providing another argument for why he should show up for voluntary workouts.
”I understand he’s a captain, but Suh is the last person I’m worried about not being prepared,” Tulloch said.
Caldwell said last week he has spoken to Suh more than any other player since he was hired, but would not say much about their conversations were related to his appearance at offseason activities with the team.
”We have talked about it and it may change and adjust,” Caldwell said. ”So when he shows up, he’ll be here.”
Detroit cornerback Chris Houston and wide receiver Carlin Isles also did not attend Tuesday’s minicamp. Houston cannot participate because of an injury, Caldwell said without providing details, and Isles is playing professional rugby.
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