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08/11/12Author: Tim Twentyman

Young continues to prove high expectations were warranted

Young continues to prove high expectations were warranted

It’s says something about the expectations the Lions have in defensive end Willie Young when general manager Martin Mayhew made it a point to single him out as one the top performers in the offseason program this spring.

Young has backed up those words this summer with a strong training camp up to this point.

The Lions are hoping that trend continues into the regular season this fall, and there’s no reason to think it won’t, after watching Young in Friday’s 19-17 loss to the Browns in the preseason opener.

Young, who started in place of Cliff Avril, was too much to handle for Browns offensive tackles most of the night. He had a sack, fumble recovery and quarterback pressure in the game. He forced a holding call with a terrific outside rush on another quarterback pressure that nearly resulted in another sack.

“I was coming out with the intent to have a tenacious attitude and to (be) very dominant,” Young said after the game. “When you have a chance to take those reps with the first team early on the first quarter, it means a lot.”

Young’s transition to an important contributor for this defense has been a three-year project in the making. Young came in as a seventh-round draft pick in 2010 and was admittedly immature and not ready for the type of work it would take to be a good NFL player his rookie year.

He turned himself into a limited contributor in 2011, but seems to have taken a giant leap forward this year. If the spring and summer are any indication of what’s yet to come, this could be a breakout season for Young.

“Obviously, this didn’t happen overnight,” Young said. “I look to continue to improve from this day forward.”

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