DE Suh makes his re­turn to Mo­town

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS WEEKEND -

sack leader Shaquil Bar­rett (15.5).

“It’s some­thing I’m used to, some­thing I’ve al­ways prided my­self on,” Suh said of the dou­ble teams. “Truth­fully, I look at it as a sign of re­spect. At the same time, I’ve got to find ways to beat dou­ble-teams and free up my team­mates.”

Suh’s pair­ing with sec­ond-year de­fen­sive tackle Vita Vea has been a win for the Bucs. While Suh’s 1.5 sacks and 31 tackles are both ca­reer lows, he’s helped Vea be­come more ag­gres­sive.

“Vita is a young kid who’s got a lot of tal­ent,” Suh said. “He’s very, very gifted. I see his fu­ture as be­ing very bright as long he con­tin­ues to hone his craft. He’ll be a dom­i­nant force for Tampa.”

And while Suh is not the pass rusher he was dur­ing five sea­sons in Detroit, he is one of the big­gest rea­sons the Bucs are the NFL’s best rush­ing de­fense, al­low­ing only 75.5 yards per game. It’s the fewest rush­ing yards al­lowed by any team since 2014 when Detroit held teams to 69.3 yards with Suh as the Lions’ Pro Bowl force in the mid­dle.

“They have a lot of guys that they kind of use in dif­fer­ent roles over there, but cer­tainly, he’s still big, long, ex­plo­sive, pow­er­ful, all those things,“Lions coach Matt Pa­tri­cia said. “So I would ex­pect to see all of that. He’s a great player. He’s play­ing in­side, can get on those guards, can get back into the cen­ter, can push the mid­dle of the pocket.“

There will be plenty of eyes on Suh when he re­turns for the 1 p.m. game at Ford Field.

“I love the city,” Suh said. “Sim­ple as that. Al­ways shown me love even when I’m there in the off­sea­son. Al­ways ap­pre­ci­ate the city and the fans.”

Lions fans were hurt when Suh de­cided to be­come a free agent af­ter five sea­sons there and signed with the Mi­ami Dol­phins. Last year, he made it all the way to the Su­per Bowl in his only sea­son with the Los An­ge­les Rams.

When the Bucs de­cided to re­lease Gerald McCoy, Suh had vir­tu­ally agreed as a free agent to a one-year, $9.5-mil­lion con­tract.

McCoy has five sacks and 29 tackles for the Pan­thers, but few would ar­gue that it was a bad de­ci­sion by the Bucs. The Bucs’ front seven is one of the best in the NFL, es­pe­cially with rookie Devin White and vet­eran line­backer Lavonte David able to run free and make tackles with Suh and Vea oc­cu­py­ing block­ers.

Of course, the high­light for Suh this sea­son has been scoop­ing fum­bles and scor­ing against the Rams and the Fal­cons.

The Bucs are Suh’s third team in three sea­sons and he will be­come a free agent in March. Gone are the sus­pen­sion-in­duc­ing plays from his Lions days when he was fined eight times and made to sit out two games for vi­o­lat­ing player-safety rules.

Still, Suh will be “ex­tremely fired up to come here and play,” Pa­tri­cia pre­dicted.

He was last sea­son in his only game in Detroit since leav­ing the Lions. Suh to­taled five solo tackles and two hits on quar­ter­back Matthew Stafford in the Rams’ 30-16 vic­tory.

He’s not the same player Lions fans re­mem­ber, but Suh has been all the Bucs hoped for.

“You chal­lenge him men­tally; he chal­lenges you men­tally,” Bowles said, “and he makes you want to be a bet­ter coach be­cause he wants to be a bet­ter player.”

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