Lions Will Test Peterson's Versatility

Julian Peterson's multi-dimensional skillset isn't lost on head coach Jim Schwartz, who talked from the NFL meetings on Wednesday on how the Lions will use the defensive newcomer ...

Although the college player draft will dominate the media landscape, the key off-season addition to Detroit's lineup in 2009 is obvious: veteran Julian Peterson.

Acquired in a trade earlier this month (news that has been shuffled behind the barrage of unimportant, speculative 'fluff' -- and yes, we're guilty of it, too), Peterson's presence on Detroit's defense cannot be understated.

He brings the tenacity of a sack artist, the veteran mind of an outside linebacker, and the qualified leadership of an All Pro.

In fact, it could become the most prominent defensive move of any NFL team. Especially when you consider that the Lions were, by far, the league's most porous defensive team a season ago.

While attending the NFL meetings this week, Lions coach Jim Schwartz acknowledged Peterson's importance -- in a variety of ways.

He also tipped his hand to how the former Michigan State standout and Pro Bowler will be utilized.

"He's a multidimensional player. But when you talk scheme you want multidimensional players, because it doesn't handcuff as a coach and it doesn't pigeonhole the player," explained Schwartz, who plans to run the 4-3 defense.

Because the Lions will enter the season with fresh faces, and far from the cohesive unit they hope to become, expect them to blitz more often.

"He can rush the passer on third down. He can line up as a defensive end. He can cover the tight end on third down probably as good as anybody in the league. So his skill set is exactly what we're looking for, and I think the final thing you put on a guy like Julian Peterson, he has five Pro Bowls under his belt."

Peterson will be a welcome addition to fellow linebacker Ernie Sims, who struggled mightily last year within a fractured defense. Sims succumed in a group that bled mediocrity, unable to carry the team's paltry linebacking core. Hence the acquisition of Peterson.

And that mindset might also sway the Lions in the direction of drafting Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry, who would patrol the middle with Peterson by his side.

Said Schwartz, "The experience that he brings and the perspective that he brings, it means a lot to what we're trying to develop."


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