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08/12/12Author: Justin Rogers - MLive

Young wants teammates to count on him for big plays

Young wants teammates to count on him for big plays

DETROIT -- On a 3rd-and-15 play early in the first quarter Friday night, Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden dropped back to pass, but before he could bring his arm forward, Detroit Lions defensive end Willie Young jarred the ball free.

Not only did he force the fumble, it was Young who jumped on the loose football seven yards up field for the recovery.

Young was a force starting in Cliff Avril's left defensive end spot, a responsibility he didn't take for granted.

"Having that opportunity to take those reps early on in the first quarter means a lot to me."

Throughout the opening quarter, Young regularly found himself in the Browns' backfield getting pressure on Weeden. It was a carryover from a strong training camp for the third-year pro out of North Carolina State.

"I guess, to some extent, it shows how much work I've put into it," Young said. "Obviously, this didn't happen overnight. I look to continue to improve this day forward."

Young is placing lofty expectations on himself for this season. He wants to go from being just another player in the Lions' defensive line rotation, to being the guy the team counts on for big plays like Friday's turnover.

"I look to come out and be the guy on the defensive line that my teammates look at and say, 'Come on, we're looking for a big play. We need a big play from you.' I look to hold up my end of the bargain."

Last season, Young played approximately a quarter of the Lions' defensive snaps. He appears to be in line for a hefty increase in what could be a breakout campaign.

Football analytics website Pro Football Focus calculated that Young got pressure on opposing quarterbacks one out of every six snaps he played, better than nearly every 4-3 defensive end in the NFL.

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