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Ndamukong Suh will be a different player, ex-Lion says

Over the last two seasons, the Detroit Lions' defense has sacked opposing quarterbacks 75 times. According to Football Outsiders, the Lions were tied for fifth with a 7.7 percent "Adjusted Sack Rate" in 2010 before dropping to 6.5 percent last season -- tied for 17th in the league.

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Ndamukong Suh's disappointing 2011 season was one of the main reasons for the Lions dip in production. Suh had just four sacks after posting 10 in his stellar rookie season. Former Lions All-Pro defensive end Al "Bubba" Baker expects Suh to return to form in 2012.

"Watch this year, 'cause now he's going to have a combination of nobody knowing who he is and everybody knowing who he is," Baker said, according to a Sunday report from Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. "You'll see a different guy 'cause he's not going to come out feeling all that pressure and have the sophomore jinx and that self-imposed pressure, 'I've got to do this, I've got to do that.'"

Another possible path to an increased sack total is that Lions head coach Jim Schwartz plans to throw opposing offenses a few curveballs this season by showing off some exotic D-line packages.

"We haven't moved our defensive tackles around a ton, but it can just help some match-ups here and there," Schwartz said, via the club's official website. "I think that can help us. We're an excellent fastball team, but every once in a while a curveball in the dirt doesn't hurt."

Sixty-five of the team's 75 sacks the last two seasons have come from the defensive line. Included in that total is 19.5 sacks from unsigned franchised defensive end Cliff Avril, so getting him under contract won't hurt, either.

Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com mentions a four-defensive tackle package, but also brings up the New York Giants' "NASCAR" package, which puts four defensive ends on the field on passing situations. The Lions are equipped to copy that package, with Suh playing inside or on the edge, and defensive ends Avril, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Lawrence Jackson (who played defensive tackle in nickel packages as a rookie in Seattle) or Willie Young rounding out the line.

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