There was no Albert Haynesworth moment for rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the second overall pick who finally signed and reported to camp last Wednesday (Aug. 4) after a four-day holdout. With his teammates watching and cheering him on, Suh easily passed his conditioning test, blasting through the two 300-yard shuttle drills in 65 and 67 seconds.
"I was kind of surprised to see my teammates cheering me on like that -- that was great," said Suh, who signed a five-year deal that could pay him as much as $68 million, with $40 million guaranteed. "All the contract stuff is beyond the point now. I am excited to be here. I got a great pat on the back from my defensive linemen, especially from Kyle Vanden Bosch who pulled me aside and said he was happy for me to be here.
"Now all I want to do is come in and work and make sure I earn that starting job."
Suh, who wound up missing seven practices, was immediately inserted into the starting defensive tackle spot alongside veteran Corey Williams and he had a rough couple of days. In team drills he was worked over pretty good by guard Stephen Peterman.
"That's one of the disappointing things about his holdout," coach Jim Schwartz said. "Everybody else had their conditioning test one day, practiced in shorts the next, then just in shoulder pads, then back to shorts and then in full pads. They were able to take a nice, reasonable progression.
"But Ndamukong he came in, ran his conditioning test 45 minutes before practice, went out to practice and in his second day he's in full pads. It's a tough situation. His head was swimming. There's a lot of ground that gets covered from a scheme standpoint and he has some catching up to do that way. But he's OK physically."
The day before he signed, Schwartz and some of the players were getting a bit edgy about his holdout. Center Dominic Raiola, a fellow Nebraska Cornhusker, summed up the feeling of the players best.
"I understand the business side of it but when you are talking in the $40 millions, you have to get your named signed already, right?" Raiola said. "He's the second overall pick. He needs to go ahead and tell his agent, 'Look, I want to sign and get into camp.'
"We're talking $40 million, $42 million, $43 million, I don't know what the big difference is. Any way you cut it, after taxes that's about $20 million. So you've got to get that name signed and get out here."
Suh was signed later that night and he made quick work to allay what, if any, negativity may have accrued in his absence.
"It was a tough time, obviously," he said. "Obviously, I wanted to be in camp on time. That's what I said. I wanted to be here on time. Unfortunately I wasn't and I apologize for that."
When asked about how he handled some of the negativity, he said, "You have to look past those things. Obviously, I know the fans were excited and wanted me to be on the field. They just want the team to win and I don't fault them for that.
"Unfortunately, some things were said but I am not holding a grudge on it. I am just happy I am here."
He reported at 305 pounds, but was already under 300 by the end of the week.
"I felt a positive attitude around here from Day One of the OTAs," Suh said. "Everybody was ready to work and eager to get into the season. The belief we have here is that we don't have to have 1-15 or 2-14 seasons. We can have standards that are a lot higher. That's what I feel around here from everybody else, that it's time to get out of that slump."
Note:Nobody campaigned for the Lions to draft Ndamukong Suh harder than defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham. His pre-draft grading of Suh was the highest he'd ever bestowed upon a prospect. Cunningham never lost faith, even when Suh's holdout reached Day Four. "My son got married and he was in Hawaii and the first thing he did was send me a bad text," Cunningham said. "'Dad, your guy said he was going to be in and he's not in.' So I sent him back, 'Adam, just stay cool. It'll be about 12 hours.' And he was signed in six. I knew he was coming in."