Welcome to Tuesday 10, where every Tuesday over the summer, we'll count down 10 Detroit Lions who are vital to the team's success in 2013. Today, we continue things by examining a young defensive end who'll finally get his big chance to contribute.
When Willie Young was drafted in 2011, the Detroit Lions had the nice problem of quality depth at defensive end. Young became a good part time contributor while others took the beating occupying starting roles.
In 2013, the Lions will be depending on Young to continue his once excellent development, perhaps even as a full time contributor. With Cliff Avril, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Lawrence Jackson now departed and tangible youth and inexperience everywhere else at the position, suddenly, Young is one of the more experienced lineman on the team.
Expected to compete for a starting role during training camp, Young is looking to improve upon poor numbers from 2012. After contributing three sacks off the bench in 2011 and impacting the game as a situational rusher, big things were planned for Young last year. Instead, he failed to meet expectations as a whole, contributing no sacks. It was a shocking drop in production, to say the least.
However, with his path now cleared a bit, a one year "tryout" type contract and new position coach Jim Washburn already helping to aid his game, Young has been focusing on improving and nailing down a starting role. For his part, Young has been filled with confidence already, which is an excellent sign leading into training camp and eventually the season.
"Young says that since Washburn's hire, he's filled almost a whole notebook of little hints, tips and nuances passed along to him by Washburn to help him master his craft."
If Young is able to apply such knowledge in a positive fashion on the field, the Lions' defense will certainly benefit. All of Young's three sacks in 2011 were huge, and impacted the game explosively. Should he contribute that in a more consistent role to the tune of six sacks next season, Young will take the next step towards becoming a major force.
Given the influx of fresh faces now occupying Detroit's defensive end spot, the Lions could certainly use their most experienced option to come through in a major way. If so, they won't end up missing Vanden Bosch, Avril and Jackson nearly as much as many assume.
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