September 07, 2014

DETROIT (AP) Ndamukong Suh's first game this season will be against an injury-plagued offensive line.

Not that the Detroit star needs any extra advantages.

''I'm going to treat this team just like any other team,'' Suh said. ''I just expect to have success against them, understand what they do and understand their weaknesses and what their strengths are and try to get them out of their strengths and exploit their weaknesses.''

Suh and the Lions host the New York Giants on Monday night, and in many ways his contract situation underscores the amount of pressure Detroit is under. This is the final year of his deal, so this may be Detroit's last chance to reach its full potential while he is still on the roster.

The Giants lost guard Geoff Schwartz to a dislocated toe, and offensive linemen James Brewer (back), Charles Brown (shoulder) and Brandon Mosley (back) have been limited.

New York quarterback Eli Manning was sacked 39 times last season. The Lions got to him twice when the Giants beat Detroit in December, with Nick Fairley and Ziggy Ansah contributing those sacks.

''Suh is the guy who sticks out to most people but he's not the only guy we are concerned about,'' Giants guard John Jerry said. ''They have a great front four. They've got guys who can stop the run and rush the passer, so we're definitely going to have to be on top of our game.''

Suh made an impact immediately when the Lions drafted him in 2010. He has 27 1/2 sacks in four seasons, but Detroit was not able to sign him to a long-term deal this year. That adds at least a bit more urgency to 2014.

The Lions collapsed toward the end of last season, wasting a great chance to make the playoffs, and coach Jim Schwartz was fired. Jim Caldwell took over, and Detroit still has an impressive core of talent that includes Suh, Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford.

That group has never won a playoff game with Detroit - and has made the postseason only once. Suh is eager to return to the playoffs.

''I don't necessarily know that I have goals other than winning and going to the playoffs, and having this defensive line be an exceptional one,'' Suh said. ''We obviously love to get after the quarterback and make big plays, game-changing plays. Sacks without question are huge in our room.''

That's especially true because Detroit's secondary remains a concern. If Manning has time to throw, it could be a long night for the Lions.

The Giants also missed the playoffs last season. Instead of fading down the stretch, they started 0-6, making a postseason appearance almost impossible.

Manning threw a career-high 27 interceptions, and New York didn't run the ball very effectively, its backfield plagued by injuries. The blocking will be crucial to improving in both those areas.

''It comes down to the offensive line,'' tackle Justin Pugh said. ''We have to come out with the right mentality, be aggressive and physical, and we have to run the ball. That's our job and we have to get it done.''

Suh will be there, trying to prevent that.

''Every time you step on the football field is an opportunity to make a play, no matter who it's going against,'' he said. ''At the end of the day, I've always kind of seen it as a defensive lineman, they have to block me, and I don't have to block them. I have to go out there and stop that quarterback and that running back. More or less, they're the ones who have to stop me from doing what I want to do.''

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