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The Shutdown Corner Interview: Ndamukong Suh, Pt. 2

We've talked with Detroit Lions super-tackle Ndamukong Suh(notes) before, and it was our pleasure to do so again earlier this week. Suh wanted to talk football, of course, but he also wanted to let everybody know about a special promotion he's running with SUBWAY — if the Lions upset the currently undefeated Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving day, a lot of happy fans will be eating on Suh.

As the press release said: Suh has been powering up with SUBWAY® Steak Melts and feels a big game coming on. His STEAKlaration? If the team can snap its seven-year Thanksgiving Day losing streak, he will pick up the tab for lunch with fans at a local SUBWAY® following the game. 

In part one of the interview, we talked about the Lions' slow few weeks after a very strong start, and how his recent meeting at NFL headquarters. Here, we get into some matchups Suh will be dealing with in the next couple of weeks.

Shutdown Corner: From a technical perspective, taking all this other stuff aside, are you playing any differently in your second NFL year? Anything you've learned and put in your repertoire?

Ndamukong Suh: Not particularly — I'm just more aware of quarterbacks and where they are. Respecting them, because they're certainly going to respect me, because I'm going after them all the way.

SC: You beat the daylights out of the Broncos and kind of forced them to re-think their offensive approach. Tebow has been having success with that zone read stuff and other version of the option — you obviously saw that in college, but why does it seem to be so hard to defend in the pros?

NS: I'm not really sure. We had a great game against Denver and shut down their running game. Shut down Tim Tebow(notes) and their offense as a while, and that was our main goal. [The option is] an old game, and it's unfortunate that they had to change their offense. Maybe they're just doing what's best for them.

The Shutdown Corner Interview: Ndamukong Suh, Pt. 2SC: You've got another young quarterback who's been successful on the run in Cam Newton(notes) — what's been your take on him overall?

NS: I haven't had a chance to sit down and fully watch him yet, but he's definitely pretty accurate in the passing game, and he can always hurt you with his feet with how big and athletic he is. We saw that from him in college, and he's proven that in the NFL. But it's just like we approach any other quarterback — we want to shut down their running game -- Jonathan Stewart(notes) and the backs they have — and get at him in the pocket. He's still a rookie, and he has to understand that we've got a pretty well-schooled group of guys who will give him a ton of different looks. At the same time, we'll have four guys on our line who will definitely want to get back their line and get to him in the pocket.

SC: And then, in order to get those steak melts to those happy fans of yours, you'll have to beat a Packers team led by a quarterback in Aaron Rodgers(notes) who's throwing the ball about as well as anybody can. What's the key — if there even is one at this point — to shutting him down?

NS: He's playing at a very high level, but the way to stop him is to continue to hit him. We had a great game plan against him last year, he wasn't able to come back in the game, and that's one way to take care of business. Another way is to continue to be in his face and cause him problems — just don't allow him to get in a rhythm, as he was against the Vikings on Monday.

SC: The trend among defenses these days seems to be to go  to more man coverage, especially against teams who don't have deep threats. Are the Lions doing that more?

NS: I think that we as a defense find that we can play multiple ways. We can be in Cover-2, Cover-1, Cover-3 — we're lucky enough to be interchangeable and have the kind of athletes to get that done. So, to be able to give [offenses] a ton of different reads, as well as playing press coverage as we may have to do with a lot of quick passes, we're eager to get the job done. Green Bay and Carolina both do those quick passes. When he have that game plan, we'll make sure to execute it.

SC: Your head coach Jim Schwartz is an interesting series of contrasts — he has an econ degree from Georgetown, and he listens to thrash metal on his way to work, often tweeting his selections of the day. How have he and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham helped you raise your game?

NS: Both coaches have done an excellent job with me. They've helped me to grow in this game in the NFL. I have a great relationship with Coach Schwartz and Coach Cunningham. I have a little more of a relationship with "Coach Gun" because I talk to him every day, but they've both allowed me to grow and compete as a young football player. It's really fun to be around a great coaching staff like that. They're very personable, and they're really players' coaches.

SC: You told me last year that guard Josh Sitton(notes) of the Packers has been your toughest matchup in the NFL to date. Is that still true, and how much are you looking forward to renewing acquaintances?

NS: He's still definitely a top offensive lineman in the league. He's a physical, strong guy with great feet. It's always fun to go against him. I think we have a good relationship off the field, and he's always a real challenge.

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