FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - Matt Slauson remembers all of the pushing and shoving, and sometimes wanting to haul off and slug Ndamukong Suh.
As big men on opposites sides of the ball, that was how practices usually went during their years together at the University of Nebraska.
“I wouldn’t say me and Suh were best friends,” the New York Jets left guard said with a big grin. “There were times we got into fights, during spring ball, during camp, but I kind of fought everyone.”
So, Slauson would always come out on top, right?
“Of course,” Slauson said with a laugh. “Every one-on-one was me against Suh. Every Oklahoma drill, me against Suh. Everyday in practice, it was me against Suh.”
The next round comes Sunday when the Jets‘ offensive linemen take on Detroit’s sack-happy rookie defensive tackle.
Suh, the second overall draft pick in April, leads the team and NFL rookies with 6 1/2 sacks and has at least one in five of his seven games, including two last week against Washington. He also returned a fumble 17 yards for a touchdown, had an interception earlier this season and is proving to be a matchup headache for offenses.
Running back LaDainian Tomlinson is similarly impressed.
“He can cause a lot of havoc,” he said. “Just his presence, he’s someone you have to look out for. We all know what he did in college, but he’s starting to make his name in the National Football League.”
“Of course you look forward to playing the best guys, the guys in this league that people consider to be top-tier guy,” Moore said. “You think you’re pretty good, so to be able to go up against those guys and challenge yourself and see how you perform against those guys is definitely something you look forward to.”
Moore has quietly carved himself a terrific career since being signed as an undrafted free agent _ a converted defensive tackle _ in 2002 and being a consistent but quiet presence on the touted line of the Jets (5-2).
“When you come in at this level, this is a man’s game here,” Ryan said. “(Suh) is going against men and he’s still doing a great job. With this matchup this week, I think Brandon Moore is the finest guard in football, so this is going to be a great matchup to watch with those two.”
Moore has spent plenty of time this week watching Suh on film, studying his moves and tendencies.
“He’s making plays, so of course, he doesn’t look like a rookie,” Moore said. “He’s a grown man. That’s why they drafted him so high. He makes plays.”
The Lions move Suh around the line at times, so Slauson could end up seeing his old nemesis line up in front of him every now and then.
“When I left and came here, I would watch him on Saturdays and he was a completely different player,” said Slauson, a sixth-round pick in 2009. “He wasn’t bad when I was there. He was really good, but it was such a drastic change over what I saw everyday and what I saw on Saturdays the next year. He was just killing guys.”
Suh is also doing that at the pro level now, showing a mix of size _ he’s 6-foot-4 and 307 pounds _ and speed, along with a ton of strength.
“The thing with Ndamukong is that every week, he’s gotten a little bit better and he’s adapted very, very quickly, and great athletes usually do,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said.
Slauson, Moore and the rest of the Jets‘ offensive line have done a pretty good job of protecting quarterback Mark Sanchez this season, allowing 11 sacks in seven games. They’ll be tested this week as they face a Lions pass rush that ranks among the league leaders with 23 sacks.
“The strength of their defense is their front four,” right tackle Damien Woody said. “All those guys are humming right now.”
Maybe none more than Suh, who is already only one sack behind the team’s rookie mark, set by Tracy Scroggins in 1992.
“He’s all over the field,” Woody said. “He’s definitely a guy that we have to keep our eye on.”
Notes: S Brodney Pool (head) returned to practice and is listed as probable against Detroit after colliding with teammate Darrelle Revis on the field Thursday and leaving early. … Ryan said DE Vernon Gholston has been playing well in his third season, even though the former first-round pick has yet to get a sack in the NFL. Ryan acknowledged he wouldn’t have taken Gholston with the sixth overall pick, as the Jets did in 2008, but is pleased to have him as a versatile piece of the defense. “I think when he came out, I thought there probably needed to be some development there,” Ryan said. “But, right now, I’m absolutely happy with Vernon Gholston.”