LIONS INSIDER

NOTEBOOK: Lions not taking reshaped Giants' O-line lightly

Posted Sep 4, 2014

Tim Twentyman covers all the news from Thursday's practice including preparing for the Giants' reshaped offensive line, changes Ndamukong Suh has made and more.

The Detroit Lions are well aware of the changes the New York Giants have experienced along their offensive line.

-- Weston Richburg, a rookie, is making his NFL debut at left guard.

-- Center, J. D. Walton has not played in nearly two years because of an ankle injury.

-- Right guard Brandon Mosley has just one start in his NFL career.

-- Left tackle Will Beatty is coming off a broken leg and a down year by most reports out of New York.

-- Right tackle Justin Pugh is probably their most consistent lineman and he's in just his second season.

There seem to be some question marks with that unit, and it would seem the Lions’ veteran and talented defensive line would have an edge in this matchup, but the Lions certainly aren’t viewing it that way.

“I think that’s an awful mistake that often times individuals will make about this league,” head coach Jim Caldwell said. “What they don’t quite understand is the fact that I don’t care who it is, if he’s lined up and starting for a team in the National Football League, he can play.”

Nick FairleyDT Nick Fairley (Photo: Gavin Smith)

Defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who’s likely to see a lot of Richburg, said it’s never a good idea to take anyone lightly in this league.

“These guys made it to the league so obviously they did something right,” Fairley said. “As a defensive line we just harp on trying to find a weak link on the line, but it's tough to find any weakness in the NFL.

“Really, we’re just going in and basically trying to establish the line of scrimmage upfront.”

Giants quarterback Eli Manning was sacked 40 times last year, which is nearly twice as much as Matthew Stafford. Subsequently, the Giants’ passing offense dipped from 12th in 2012 to 19th last year. They ranked 29th in rushing with an average of 83.2 yards per game. Those numbers led to a lot of the changes, along with the retirement of Pro Bowl guard Chris Snee.

Lions All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh isn't treating this game any differently than he would any other matchup, even with the uncertainty upfront for New York

“Every time you step on the football field it’s an opportunity to make a play no matter who it’s going against,” Suh said. “At the end of the day, I’ve always kind of seen it as a defensive lineman like they have to block me, I don’t have to block them.

“I have to go out there and stop that quarterback and that running back and more or less they’re the ones that have to stop me from doing what I want to do.”

MAKING CHANGES

Suh has met with the league office on two separate occasions to talk about the way he plays the game. Suh told reporters Thursday he has used those opportunities to get a better understanding of how he can play within the rules.

“I think they for sure understand that I’ve made changes and have always been a person who likes to play within the rules,” Suh said.

“I think I’m a guy that is fortunately fast and strong and my hits look pretty egregious at times. But at the end of the day I’m just going out there to play as hard as I can, impose my will and have that turn into wins for my team.”

Suh said some of the changes he’s made are due to having a better understanding of the rules.

Suh was flagged for a personal foul penalty for a late hit on Chad Henne in the third preseason game. The league office did not fine him.

TATE WANTS MICHIGAN BACK

Saturday night will mark the last scheduled meeting between the University of Michigan and Notre Dame football teams.

Golden Tate, who was a part of that traditional game while at Notre Dame, says it’s sad to see the rivalry go away.

“I strongly disagree with them getting rid of this game,” Tate said in front of his locker. “For the longest time Notre Dame/Michigan has been the staple of college football. The fact that they’re getting rid of it for whatever reason I strongly disagree.

“I wish they would reconsider. It’s one of the top five rivalries you think about. I don’t care if you’re in Wisconsin or Florida.”

Tate finished by saying if the rivalry is going away, the least Notre Dame can do is go out and win the last one.

Michigan fans will disagree.

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE

Caldwell has a pretty good idea how much of a home field advantage Ford Field could be for the Lions on Monday night.

He was the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens when they played the Lions on Monday night last year. Caldwell’s Ravens won the game on a late 61-yard field goal, but he said it was a real struggle at times to communicate.

“It’s a lot of noise,” he said. “There were a couple of plays in particular in our game last year that caused us some issues with the game in the balance. There are two plays.

“One, we had miscommunication between one of the guys on the flanks and our quarterback, where he didn’t hear the check that was made. It didn’t look like much because in the end Joe (Flacco) ended up throwing the ball away. You probably didn’t notice it.

“The other thing was, we had a situation where we were actually going to try to milk the clock even a little bit more to bring the clock down, so we would have less time for Detroit to get the ball and be able to drive into position to score. Because of the noise and confusion, ‘did he hear me? Did he not hear me? We better just call timeout.’ It was one of those kinds of situations.”