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08/03/12Author: Anwar Richardson - Mlive.com

Willie Young not focused on Cliff Avril’s holdout

Willie Young not focused on Cliff Avril’s holdout

ALLEN PARK -- Detroit Lions defensive end Willie Young knows what everybody is thinking.

He does not want any part of it.

With Lions defensive end Cliff Avril refusing to sign his franchise tender, this is a great opportunity for Young. He has a chance to make a case for more playing time this season. Young is getting all of Avril's first-team reps, which can only help him develop into a starter.

And maybe, just maybe, if Detroit decides it no longer wants Avril's services after this season, Young could step in and start at left defensive end.

Young does not want to hear it.

"Look, I'm going to put it like this," Young said. "I'm not concerning myself with Cliff's situation. I can't do that. If I were to do that, then I wouldn't be able to perform up to my potential. I don't concern myself with that.

"He has a situation. Whatever happens, whether he makes it back or does not make it back, that's what they (Lions and Avril) got going on. I can't concern myself with that."

Young has focused on improving during training camp, which has been noticeable on-the-field.

During practices, Young has stood out, making play-after-play, and looking like a potential starter. Obviously, Young is not allowed to sack the quarterback, but he appears to be in a position to make those plays during practice.

Young is not so easily impressed.

"I think everybody who strives to be a great athlete feels the same way," Young said. "You look at film and you say, 'Man, that's not me.' Even after practice when I'm walking off the field, I ask myself how I did. I'll think I had a pretty good day today.

"Then I'll get in the meeting room, and it's like 'Nah, that don't look too good.' I think that's one of the keys to me improving."

Young has improved ever since Detroit made him its seventh-round selection in 2010.
After appearing in only two games as a rookie, Young played in 14 regular season last year. He finished with 14 tackles and three sacks in his reserve role, but Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said Young caught his eye during offseason workouts.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz is also high on Young, but has a little more caution.

"He's had a good, consistent first week of camp," Schwartz said. "We expect a lot from him. He's made plays for us; he's come a long way. But he's certainly not a finished product, and he needs to keep the attitude that he's had, a keep grinding that attitude, and not feel as though we've accomplished anything the first week in camp. Again, that's not an objective."

And it is not Young's objective to replace Avril.

"I got a long way to go," Young said. "A lot of improvements to make. I'm not behind, but really just touching up on little things. Little things go a long way in this league. For the most part, I just keep chopping wood. That's the biggest thing."

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