Where The Lions Go From Here Without Haloti Ngata

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Where the Lions go from here without Haloti Ngata

ALLEN PARK -- The strength of the Detroit Lions has been their defense, and the strength of that defense has been against the run. Now their heart has been ripped out.

Haloti Ngata was placed on injured reserve this week. Based on a recent NFL rule change, he's still eligible to be activated sometime in the final month of the season. But that's not going to happen.

He's suffered a bicep injury that requires surgery, and his season is over.

To the casual observer, Ngata might slip under the radar at this point in his career. He's not a monster anymore. He's never had 2.5 sacks in a season since joining Detroit, and never had more than 24 tackles.

He never had fewer than 31 tackles in any of his nine seasons with Baltimore. 

But a defensive tackle's value is appraised in so many ways beyond the stat sheet. And with Ngata, though his splash plays had diminished, his defense against the run remained stout.

The Lions are third against the run this year. And while there are so many other factors that go into it -- not the least of which is the arrival of Jarrad Davis -- Ngata was the tip of the spear.

"He's an incredible individual, not just in terms for what he does for us on the field -- because he's been able to do a lot of great things for us -- but even off the field with his leadership," coach Jim Caldwell said. "It's huge. You don't necessarily don't go out and find another Haloti Ngata. I mean, it's just not going to happen."

But now they have no choice but to try.

All efforts to repair the interior of that line begin with A'Shawn Robinson, a former second-round pick who rose into the starting lineup last year and has been a fixture ever since. He's strong at the point of attack, and his knack for deflecting passes is uncanny, though the splash plays have also diminished this year.

Now the Lions need him at his best more than ever. 

"I think A'Shawn's played well," defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. "We all want guys to play better, but I think he's played well. He's very competitive, he hustles hard. Looking for maybe a few more splash plays, a few more stats, which I think will come. But it's like anything, he's doing the things right, so those plays will come." I don't worry about it when guys are doing the things we're asking them to do. Maybe the plays aren't coming right at this particular time, but as long as they stick to it, we usually feel like the play will come to them. So, I feel good about when A'Shawn is."

Behind Robinson is a group that features Akeem Spence and Jeremiah Ledbetter, as well as the recently signed Datone Jones and Caraun Reid. 

Among them, Spence is most likely to take over Ngata's starting job. He has six tackles and one sack in some solid snaps off the bench. But Ledbetter should play extensively as well, given how much Detroit likes to rotate at the position, and how well Ledbetter has played.

A sixth-round pick who was moving from the outside at Arkansas to the inside with Detroit, not much was expected of Ledbetter this season. But he's played immediately, and played well. Matter of fact, he's been Detroit's best interior lineman this side of Ngata according to ProFootballFocus. 

"He's got just some natural talent and he's got bulk strength, power, and he can run," Caldwell said. "Don't know if anybody noticed on the play where Ed Dickson caught the pass on our short-yardage situation, Ledbetter's running down the field. And you can see why he's able to play in this league so early, because he's got unusual speed. He's got unusual quickness. But he's still a ways away."

As for the newcomers, Reid brings some experience to the scheme, given he was drafted by the club in 2015. But he didn't make it out of training camp last year, then didn't make it out of camp with the Chargers this year.

Jones is a former Packers first-round pick who played mostly on the outside in Green Bay, but is expected to slide inside with Detroit.

"I'm just coming in, getting familiar with where guys are in the defense, letting these guys know who I am and working to help this team win games," Jones said. "I'm heavy now man. I'm, like, 300 pounds." 

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This is source I found from another site, main source you can find in last paragraph

Source : http://www.mlive.com/lions/index.ssf/2017/10/where_the_lions_go_from_here_w_1.html

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