INDIANAPOLIS — Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh ought to be used to getting attention.
He gets double-teamed regularly during the NFL season by offensive linemen who want to keep him away from their quarterback.
He’s been getting blanket coverage away from the field, too.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz has come to Suh’s defense, evaluating his performance in 2011 and explaining why Suh is the target of so much media scrutiny.
Most recently, a poll in Forbes Magazine rated Suh No. 4 on the list of 10 most-disliked athletes. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was No. 1. Golfer Tiger Woods was second and New York Jets receiver Plaxico Buress third.
Schwartz praised Suh’s level of play in an interview Thursday morning at the NFL Scouting Combine and had little reaction to the poll, attributing it mostly to the notoriety Suh has received in his two pro seasons.
“Ndamukong is the first player that I’ve seen that there are arm-chair defensive tackles,” Schwartz said. “There are arm-chair quarterbacks, arm-chair head coaches, arm-chair kickers.
“Everybody has a thought on game strategy and what a head coach should do. Everybody knows when the kicker misses. Everybody sees if the quarterback is having success or not.
“Ndamukong is is probably the first guy that has Forbes talking about him. The fact that they’re talking about a guy like Ndamukong Suh shows how different he is and the scrutiny he gets.”
Suh had an explosive, dominating rookie season. He recorded 10 quarterback sacks and was voted first-team All-Pro and a starter on the NFC Pro Bowl team.
In 2011, he declined to four sacks and did not make All-Pro or the Pro Bowl.
His reputation took a massive hit when he stomped on Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith on Thanksgiving Day and the NFL suspended him two games for the incident.
Schwartz has spoken often about Suh controlling himself and not getting penalties for plays after the whistle.
But Schwartz has defended his play on the field and did so again on Thursday, saying Suh is a victim of setting such a high standard as a rookie.
Schwartz evaluated Suh’s performance in 2011 on tape before coming to Indianapolis.
“It’s an interesting perspective when you sit back and look at every single play for the season over again from a lot of different angles — third-down reels and red-zone reels and scheme-reels and all those different things,” Schwartz said. “Ndamukong played very well this year.
“Some of the things that happened with him, particularly the Thanksgiving Day game, overshadowed that.
“He was an improved player. Also, the thing we saw, offenses knew what number he wears. They also took an approach of trying to limit his effectiveness. There was an education period going on there.”