Lions Expect Big Things From Edwards

No matter what the Lions coaches and staff say or do, it's up to third-year player Kalimba Edwards to get after the quarterback the way he did his rookie season and improve upon it. If not, second year man Cory Redding of Texas stands ready to take some of Edwards playing time, and perhaps eventually his job. Much more inside.

(ALLEN PARK) - Through free agency and the draft, the Detroit Lions improved themselves in almost every conceivable way, except on the defensive line.

Detroit made no moves after a strong showing from its defensive front in several areas. However, one area Detroit would like to improve on is it's pass rush.

Last season, James Hall and Robert Porcher led the team with 4 1/2 sacks respectively, but in today's National Football League, it isn't unusual for the top pass rushers to average 15 sacks or more per season. Detroit hasn't had a double-digit sack man since 2001 when Porcher registered eleven.

That's why Edwards' Detroit career is clearly at a crossroads. Last year Edwards said in training camp that he thought he would get at least fourteen sacks.

That was music to the ears of Steve Mariucci's coaching staff since Robert Porcher, who is in his last season as a situational pass rusher for Detroit, is clearly on the decline.

Edwards instead suffered through an injury-plagued season following off-season surgery for a sports hernia. Edwards underwent the same surgery this offseason and thinks he's going to be 100% healthy for the first time since his rookie season.

He'd better be. Lions president Matt Millen put Edwards among a group of players (including quarterback Joey Harrington and defensive tackle Shawn Rogers) that are on the spot and who must produce.....or else.

"Kalimba Edwards [has to have a good year]", Millen replied when asked about players who must deliver in 2004.

Edwards will get the benefit from a coaching staff that is doing everything in its power to put him in a position to suceed.

He should benefit from the approach of new defensive line coach Larry Brooks, a former pro bowl defensive lineman with the Los Angeles Rams. Brooks knew every trick in the book when it came to getting to the passer and he plans on passing that knowledge down to the third year veteran from South Carolina.

"We're counting on some guys, like Kalimba Edwards, who hasn't played a whole lot and stayed healthy, to be a player for us,' said Brooks to the Detroit News. He believes Edwards should benefit from a switch to the right end, the position normally occupied by James Hall.

Hall was switched, by new defensive coordinator Dick Jauron, to the left side of the defensive line in an attempt to get better run support out of Hall.

"We're hoping they're equal against the run, but there is a size difference. James is bigger (than Edwards)," said Jauron to the Booth Newspapers.

The belief is that Edwards speed around the edge gives him greater upside for more potential sacks than Hall. Also, Lions brass believes that Hall is more suited to grinding through the opposition's power side than Edwards.

But no matter what the Lions coaches and staff say or do, it's up to Edwards to get after the quarterback the way he did his rookie season and improve upon it. If not, second year man Cory Redding of Texas stands ready to take some of Edwards playing time, and perhaps eventually his job.

I's just like the former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Hank Stramm's old one-liner - "this is the NFL which means Not For Long" if you ain't producing.

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