ALLEN PARK, MICH. (AP) - The Detroit Lions waited four-plus days to get Ndamukong Suh on the field, then wasted no time putting him on their first-string defense in his first practice.
Suh took a flight from Nebraska to Michigan on Wednesday, signed his contract, passed a conditioning test and joined his teammates for drills on a muggy afternoon.
“I’m happy to finally be out here,” he said. “I enjoyed it, knocking off the rust.”
The No. 2 pick overall in the NFL draft was greeted by chants of “Suuuuhhhh!” from fans as he walked on the practice field and was the center of attention for the next two hours.
Suh didn’t report to training camp Friday and missed seven practices.
“It was a tough time,” he said. “Obviously, I wanted to be in camp on time as I said previously. Unfortunately, I wasn’t, so I apologize for that.
“As we all know, it’s a business.”
Suh’s five-year contract is worth $40 million guaranteed and as much as $68 million, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks were confidential.
Team president Tom Lewand said he’s not concerned with how Suh’s deal compares to the contract Matthew Stafford signed last year after Detroit drafted the quarterback No. 1 overall. Stafford’s six-year contract has $41.7 million in guarantees with a maximum value of $78 million.
“The focus needs to be what they do for a living, not how much they make doing it,” Lewand said.
Does Detroit coach Jim Schwartz expect Suh to make an immediate impact on the defensive line?
“Yeah,” Schwartz said. “Did you see the contract? We expect big things from him.”
Suh does, too.
“It would be a disappointment if I didn’t have that expectation,” he said. “I’m going to continue to hold myself to a high standard to want to be the best and to be part of a team and a group of players that turns this around.”
The Lions are counting on the former Nebraska defensive tackle to bolster a defense that ranked among the league’s all-time worst in points allowed the past two seasons while the team went 2-30.