As the NFL has ramped up its efforts to improve player safety, some players have had an easier time adjusting their style of play than others.
Players like Dashon Goldson, Brandon Meriweather and Ndamukong Suh have often received increased scrutiny for overly aggressive incidents. As a result, those three and 18 others have been identified as “at-risk” and new NFL executive VP of football operations Troy Vincent has been making the rounds for one-on-one meetins with each player.
NFL.com’s Albert Breer reports those meetings have gone well in general, particularly Vincent’s meeting with Suh:
But for the most part, what Vincent found was a group of players who wanted to do the right thing. Maybe most encouraging was how the first of these meetings, with Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh during OTAs, set the tone. Suh was suspended in 2011, and has long been subject to increased league scrutiny as a result of his style of play.
“He was very receptive, he understood, he cared about the perception, his reputation, and I told him we’re not trying to take the edge he plays with away,” Vincent said. “I said, ‘We’ve seen you adjust, we’ve seen an adjustment in your play, let’s keep that going.’ … We met for hours, talking about the example he sets, the role model he’s become, and emphasizing his adjustment. What he did was set the bar with his approach, since he was first.”
It took just one game a year ago for the spotlight to be put squarely on Suh. An unnecessary low blow to Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan negated a DeAndre Levy interception return for a touchdown and brought out the “dirty” label early in the 2013 season.
With contract talks tabled until after the season, Suh has every reason to be on his best behavior in 2014. If he is looking for the Lions, or any other NFL team in free agency, to come up and meet his number, he’ll need to prove that he can make it through a season without landing on the league’s disciplinary radar.
Tags: Ndamukong Suh