Lions seventh-rounder Willie Young a keeper


Terry Foster/ The Detroit News

Allen Park— Chances are, Willie Young is spending most of his free weekend fishing from a dock off the coast of Florida.

He’ll take his catch home, fry it up for his family and relax.

“I love all kinds of fishing, and when I am free, that is what I love to do,” the Lions defensive end said. “I want to find some fishing holes up there in Michigan.”

Off the field, Young is low-key, searching for the perfect fishing spot.

On the field, he’s confident and excitable.

Young throws his hair back into a ponytail and sports a look of indignation. Young, a seventh-round draft pick in 2010 (213th overall), compiled 20.5 career sacks and 45 tackles for loss (second in school history) at North Carolina State.

But at 6-foot-5 and 251 pounds, he’s built more like a basketball player.

“I ain’t no seventh-round pick,” Young said.

And he’s showing that.

This season, the backup defensive end has 10 tackles and two sacks.

“I don’t feel like I am out of place,” Young said. “I’ve always felt I was in place. I just had to adjust to the business side of things, and once I did that, it has been smooth sailing.”

Hungry on the field

Teammate Corey Williams is one of Young’s biggest boosters and role models.

“All this first round, second round, sixth round, that don’t mean nothing,” Williams said. “If you’ve got the heart to get out there, you belong. Look at how many guys were picked in the first round and were busts. Look how many picked in the first round are not even in the league.

“When you are picked low it doesn’t do anything but make you more hungry. You got to go out and grind it out.”

Young grew up in Riviera Beach, Fla., where it was a challenge every day.

“I come from nothing where nothing was given to me,” said Young, adding that his parents were strict. “When I was growing up I was always hungry. I always wanted more and I took nothing for granted.”

That determination is what continues to drive Young today.

And it doesn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

“The young man’s got a lot of potential,” Williams said. “I don’t think he realizes what type of potential he has. Once he settles down and relaxes and lets the game come to him, he is going to make a lot of money in this league. It is hard to find somebody built like that who can get off the ball and play the run and the pass like that. He is special.”

If nothing else, Young is confident.

He admits he needs to improve on his game but also says: “I have no weaknesses.”

‘He is an exciting player’

As a rookie, Young played in two games, but impressed coaches with his energy and length.

This season, he’s making an impact, providing depth on the rush edge.

“He is a different guy mentally,” defensive end Cliff Avril said. “Once he understood this was a business as well as a game and he got serious, that is when he started to be a whole different guy. It is great to see him being successful.”

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh also has been impressed with Young’s maturity and ability.

“He is always productive, and he is always ready when he gets out there,” Suh said. “He is an exciting player and makes plays and it is exciting to see him play as he has come into a huge spotlight.”

But right now, Young is just enjoying life.

“I am riding the wave right now,” he said. “I don’t think it has really hit me that I am in the league now.”

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DeMarcus Ware’s the triggerman for the Dallas defense


Chris McCosky/ The Detroit News

Allen Park— Jim Schwartz thinks there might be a typo on the Cowboys two-deep roster. DeMarcus Ware is listed under JLB — which in defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s parlance means Jack linebacker.

“What do they list him as, JLB?” Schwartz said. “What they need to do is list him as G-O-O-D.”

Truthfully, they could list the entire Cowboys defense under that heading. It ranks first in the NFC (fifth in the NFL) in total defense (288 yards), second in the NFL against the run (61.3) and first in the league in sacks (13).

Ware, who will be playing in his 100th game Sunday, has a league-high five sacks. His 85 career sacks are second only to Reggie White’s 105 in 100 games.

“Is there a better player than that guy right now on defense?” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said.. “I have a hard time finding one that affects the game like he does.”

The Lions actually did a reasonable job against Ware last season, limiting him to four tackles, one-half sack and three quarterback hits. But Ware is operating out of Ryan’s system now, and the defense is playing with more fire.

“Yeah, this is a whole new story,” Linehan said. “It’s like they talk about with great offensive players; you try to contain them. We have to try and contain (Ware) and keep those plays that change the game to a minimum.”

Two years ago, when quarterback Matthew Stafford was a rookie, Linehan went against a Ryan-coached defense in Cleveland and found a way to produce 473 yards (422 passing) and five touchdowns. It doesn’t sound like Linehan has referenced that tape much this week.

“We won some that day but we lost quite a few, too,” Linehan said. “His defense is an absolute nightmare to prepare for. The guy’s got them coming (rushing) from everywhere. He has everybody playing hard. They’ve bought in and believe in what they’re doing. Playing him causes a lot of sleepless nights for me and the offensive staff.”

If Stafford was the type of person who lost sleep over games — he’s not — he’d be baggy-eyed this week, too.

“They are very stout against the run and they have great players up front,” said Stafford, who will be playing in his hometown for the first time since he was in college at Georgia. “That front seven is some of the best we will face all year. And the back end is experienced with guys that know how to play Rob Ryan’s schemes. They are very multiple. They do a lot of different personnel packages and they mix in blitzes. It’s a tough defense.”

As for Ware, Stafford said there are some similarities between him and Chiefs defensive end Tamba Hali, who caused the Lions offensive line some stress in Week 2.

“They use (Ware) inside some, but they will rush him from the open end (opposite the tight end) and from the closed end — we had some practice with that against Hali,” Stafford said. “They are both very talented. We will have to know where he is at all times.”

The question remains, though, how will the Lions move the ball? They have struggled with a traditional run game (26th in the NFL), so it seems futile to force that. The Cowboys take away the deep pass as well as any team — they are one of three teams that have not allowed a reception longer than 40 yards.

So, as they did a week ago, perhaps the Lions will have to live or die with the short, ball control passing game. Or, if you listen to Schwartz, maybe not.

“It’s not just their talent, it’s their schemes also,” Schwartz said. “Their scheme is designed to make a team one-dimensional. They take the run away and then are able to get after the passer once you are one-dimensional. We need to get an efficient run game. If we do a good job running the ball, then we will be able to make plays in the passing game.”

As for the Cowboys pressure, Schwartz believes the Lions have options.

“We need to neutralize it, whether it be by running the ball, throwing it quick or by using extra protection,” he said. “But we need to account for Ware on every single play.”

Be a-Ware

Sunday’s game against the Lions will be the 100th for Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware. How his sack numbers, in history, stack up through 100 games:

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