Bubba Baker: Lions’ D-Line could be better than Silver Rush

DETROIT — The best defensive line in Detroit Lions history remains the Silver Rush crew that wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks in the 1970s.

But one of the stalwarts of that line, Al (Bubba) Baker, said in a visit to camp today that this year’s Lions front has the potential to be better than any he played on.

“Just standing here, I was in awe of them with the physical ability of them,” Baker said. “I think Ndamukong (Suh), being the undertackle like Doug English — Doug English was 255, 260 (pounds). Ndamukong’s 305. I look at Ziggy (Ansah) and compare him to myself.

“Talentwise, it’s not even close, but we’ll have to see how well they mesh together, because it’s a commitment. It really is. You commit to your teammates, and you don’t miss practices and you certainly don’t miss games. If you make that kind of commitment, I think these guys have the ability to break any record we ever had as a Silver Rush, by far.”

Baker set an unofficial Lions record with 23 sacks as a rookie in 1978 — sacks didn’t become an official NFL stat until 1982 — and while the Lions don’t have a pass rusher of that caliber on this team, Baker marveled at their depth, size and length.

Suh and Nick Fairley are one of the NFL’s best tackle tandems, while their new-look group of ends —Ansah, Willie Young, Jason Jones and Israel Idonije — is less accomplished. None of those ends ever has had double-digit sacks in a season.

Baker said Fairley “reminds me of myself” and called Suh unblockable.

“They have an opportunity to do something, but it all boils down to winning their individual battles, and that’s kind of what I was sharing with them,” Baker said. “There’s no one single human being that can block Suh. He doesn’t exist. Kong, but he’s retired. King Kong is retired.

“And if they understand the commitment and being leaders as the defensive line, everybody looks to the defensive line to change the course of the game, and we all know the clichés about the game is won up front. They’re it. They’re it. They’re the coverage, they’re everything. They’re the Marines. Ball winds up on the 5-yard line by some kind of turnover. They’re the guys that’s got to go and say, ‘Hey, we’re not going to let them go in.’”


Posted by Tribune News Services

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