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09/27/13Author: Paula Pasche - The Oakland Press

Willie Young steps up his game

Willie Young steps up his game

ALLEN PARK — Willie Young says playing right defensive end is a lot like brushing his teeth with his left hand.
It works, but it’s not comfortable.

And yet the Detroit Lions defensive end started on the right side the first two games this season. Ziggy Ansah got the start on Sunday in Washington.
“It’s obviously awkward once you start it, especially if you weren’t prepared for it,’’ Young said.  “But it’s a credit to me I take my hat off to myself, pat myself on the back. I didn’t know if I’d be playing left, right, D tackle, two technique, nose, what else. I just had to adjust and take what was given to me and make the best of it.’’
This week he’s expected to start on the left side replacing Jason Jones who is out for the season with a torn patella tendon.

“I’m right-handed, my power hand is inside, at left end you use your inside more than outside,’’ Young said. “On the right side you use your left hand which is my not dominant hand. It’s like throwing a left punch, it’s not going to be that deadly unless you’re left-handed.’’

Young, who is 6-foot-4, has been a bit of a mystery since he was drafted in the seventh round in 2010. He’s been a standout on the practice field, but hasn’t always been able to transfer that to game situations.

It’s almost like a light bulb went on this year.

His biggest downside is collecting penalties that just shouldn’t happen. He was benched in a preseason game after coach Jim Schwartz had seen one too many penalties from Young.

In the win over the Redskins, Young forced quarterback Robert Griffin III into an interception with pressure and avoided a horse-collar call which was the right call but often officials whistle that to the advantage of the offensive player.

“I’m not thinking about the horse collar, I’m not thinking about a low blow, I’m not thinking about a guy who is high-lowing me and ... I’m not thinking about the guard who is holding me,’’ Young said. “I’m not thinking about none of that stuff, none of it. Just get to the guy with the ball.’’
Coach Jim Schwartz said Young is headed in the right direction.

“I thought he did some good things (Sunday). Just like Ziggy, just like all of our other players, there are some things he needs to be more consistent on,’’ Schwartz said. “I thought he did a good job on the run front. He rushed very well in the game against a really good left tackle in Trent Williams. Most of his rush came over on Trent Williams side. He made his impact felt, he is on the right path.”

Young has the respect of his teammates including Ndamukong Suh who will be lining up next to him.

“Willie is a character. He’s a guy that has without question a great edge of being aggressive and making plays,’’ Suh said. “He is a guy that is slippery-sloppering and getting the backfield which sometimes kind of surprises you.

“You don’t really expect his type of play out of a guy like that. Like I said before, he plays big. That’s something I like about Willie and I look forward to playing next to him,’’ Suh said.

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