Lions defensive tackle Shaun Cody knows he needs to improve if he wants a new contract -- or perhaps to even make the team. He has only 1.5 sacks in three seasons -- none since his rookie year.
Cody, a second-round pick in 2005, played all 16 games as a rookie. But he played only six the following year. He suffered a dislocated big toe on his left foot.
The thing stuck straight up. He sat out four games. He tried to come back, taping down the toe and taking a pain-killing injection, but he lasted only two or three snaps and went on injured reserve.
He played 15 games last season and said the toe was "OK."
"I think any time you have a severe injury like that, to come back it takes a whole year," said Cody, who recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament at USC. "When I did my ACL in college, it took about a year to come back. I figure this year, I've had a chance to play on it for a year and get used to it and rehab it to its fullest. It feels great now."
Cody has been solid against the run, but he has struggled to penetrate into the backfield. That's why coach Rod Marinelli's phone calls have focused on the pass rush.
"I think what's happened here is, I've been playing cautious," Cody said. "I know that my reps were limited last year. When you get in there, you really don't want to make a mistake. And that's the wrong way to play football. You don't want to worry about making a mistake. You just want to go out there and play."
Cody said he has been trying to trim his weight from about 305 to about 295. When wide receiver Mike Furrey picked up a plate of pastries at the Lions' charity golf outing and offered them to Cody, Cody waved them away.
"I've got to lose 10 pounds, Mike," Cody said.
In the final year of his contract, Cody is fighting for playing time - and perhaps a roster spot - even though the Lions traded Shaun Rogers. The Lions signed free agent Chuck Darby and drafted Andre Fluellen in the third round, with Cory Redding and Langston Moore on the roster.
"Last year I had no sacks, and that was disappointing for me," Cody said. "This year coming into a contract year and wanting to be a part of the Lions a long time, it's important for me to have a big year. I know that."