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Ndamukong Suh ready for next step, Lions say

The Detroit Lions defense failed to take the next step this past season, ranking 23rd overall after finishing 21st in 2010. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who earned Pro Bowl, All-Pro and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors that year also saw his production drop dramatically, with the former No. 2 overall pick posting just 36 tackles and four sacks in 14 games.

Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham expects Suh and the defense to take the next step this season, according to Eric Lacy of The Detroit News.

"What we've done this spring, I cut up all the plays — every snap (Suh) had (in 2011) — and I showed him," Cunningham said Sunday while at the Michigan International Speedway. "I said, 'Now you tell me what happens during a game.' In college, you have 85 to 90 plays, but in the NFL you have 60 to 65, so you can't relax on a play here and there and then start looking for the plays, looking for the shots — hitting the quarterback for a sack. He finally realized that when I showed him the tape."

Cunningham also lamented the number of injuries the team had in the secondary a season ago and how continuity and a greater understanding the system will help the unit.

"We're doing a lot of different things. We're moving the whole defense — we're taking the next step," Cunningham said. "People say, 'Why didn't you do that before?' Well, when you have a lack of experience and injuries, you can't. The secondary was the key; we were coaching new guys every morning, trying to get ready for a game because we were missing starters. So you can't do scheme-wise what you would like to do.

"But now, we're like a different unit, and I saw that during the rookie camp. I told the coaches, 'Either I'm yelling less or you're coaching better.' I'm not yelling because they understand the system, they've been together for three years, and a lot of the players have, too. We don't have a lot of new guys. We're a different team, and you'll be surprised."

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