NFL: Lions’ Ndamukong Suh says he’s back at ground zero
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Ndamukong Suh says he has to start off at "ground zero" because being the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft is no longer relevant.
The 6-foot-3 Suh weighs nearly 300 pounds and, unlike most athletes carrying that kind of weight, he doesn't look one bit fat.
"That's one of the reasons we drafted because he's like that," Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said Friday as the Lions opened a three-day rookie orientation camp. "He's in great shape."
The former Nebraska standout looked impressive physically — once chasing down a running back to force a fumble — during an afternoon workout in helmets, shorts and cleats.
"He's definitely a freak," first-round running back Jahvid Best said. "I'm glad he's on our side."
Suh sounded good, too.
"I was No. 2 coming out of college. Now, I'm back to ground zero," he said humbly. "So, I've got to build myself back up."
Schwartz said Suh already got one of his messages.
"Everything from this point on, is going to be earned by how hard they work and how they look on the field," Schwartz said. "Not by their draft status or how much money they make."
The Lions will likely give Suh a contract worth $60-plus million and he has vowed not to be a holdout.
Suh, though, will let his agents handle his off-the-field business while he focuses on getting ready to make an impact between the lines.
"It's back to football, learning the basics," he said.
Caleb Campbell has been through basic training and everything else the Army required of him before he was allowed to pursue a career in sports. The Lions announced they signed Campbell along with seven undrafted free agents Friday, two years after drafting him in the seventh round.
On the eve of training camp in 2008, Campbell was told not to sign his contract and to report back to West Point.
"It was definitely a confusing time for me because the whole time, I was told I could play ball," he recalled.
The Army revised its interpretation of Defense Department policy regarding soldiers playing professional sports, requiring cadets to complete two years of active duty before applying for a release.
The Lions don't seem to be giving him a shot as a charity case, believing he might be able to make the team playing special teams.
"He's smart, he's 6-foot-3, he's 235 pounds and he runs fast," Schwartz said. "He didn't forget how to play football in two years. He actually faster now than he was when he was playing at Army."
When Campbell graduates from Basic Officer Leadership Course in July, he will make the transition from active duty to the reserves, perhaps with the Michigan National Guard.
Campbell, who tried to make the U.S. bobsled team for the Vancouver Olympics, is thankful the Lions were still interested in giving him a chance to fulfill his dream.
"I woke up every morning and in the back of my head a little voice was telling me, `It's not over. Don't give up yet,"' he recalled. "It was definitely a challenging time, but I allowed it to make me a better person.
"I'm a strong believer that great works are done in deep water."