Lions' Suh on Rodgers incident: 'Next question'

By Noah Trister
Associated Press
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Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh looks on during the first half of Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Ndamukong Suh says he is happy his suspension was lifted for Sunday's playoff game in Dallas.

And that's about all the Detroit Lions defensive tackle was willing to offer about his successful appeal.

Suh spoke Wednesday, one day after a hearing officer overturned a one-game league suspension, saying the Lions' star needed only to pay a $70,000 fine.

Suh was suspended for stepping on Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' left leg twice last Sunday in a loss at Lambeau Field, but now he'll be available for this weekend's playoff game at Dallas.

"I'm just pleased with the decision and glad I have the opportunity — I can go against Dallas and help my teammates win the game," Suh said. "I think that's most important."

Suh made it clear he wasn't going to elaborate about his suspension or the appeal. At first, he tried changing the subject by saying he was focused on Dallas — or some variation of that answer. Later, Suh began repeatedly saying "next question" when pressed about the incident with Rodgers and its aftermath.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Suh said at his appeal hearing that his feet were numb from the cold and he couldn't tell difference between Rodgers' feet and the ground.

When Lions coach Jim Caldwell spoke, he also tried to put a stop to questions about Suh and his appeal, although he did talk a bit about Suh's attitude in their first year together. Caldwell took over as Detroit's coach after last season.

"I can only tell you that since I've been here with him, he's been the guy that has been solid," Caldwell said. "He's been good. He listens, and he tries to do the right thing."

Suh has a long list of fines and one previous suspension, for two games in 2011 for stepping on the right arm of Packers lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith. Suh has been fined eight times in his career, but this was the first in 2014.

Suh's short-lived suspension came after Detroit center Dominic Raiola served a one-game ban for stepping on a Chicago player. Raiola missed the regular-season finale at Green Bay, and the Packers beat Detroit in a game that decided the NFC North title.

Raiola was wearing a "Bad Boys" shirt Wednesday — a reference to Detroit's championship-winning NBA team of a quarter-century ago — but he said he wasn't trying to send any sort of message with it. He said the offensive linemen have had those shirts for a while and he just happened to be wearing it.

"I know I'm chomping at the bit to get back out there," Raiola said. "I just think this team is hungry. The more shots that people take at us, the stronger we get, the tougher we get."

Suh stepped on Rodgers once with each foot, which violated unnecessary roughness rules, according to the league. Hearing officer Ted Cottrell heard Suh's expedited appeal Tuesday and ruled that Suh can play at Dallas. Cottrell's decision means the Lions will have one of their key defensive cogs. Suh finished the season with a team-high 8½ sacks and helped Detroit rank second overall defensively and first against the run.

But the disciplinary action against Suh and Raiola raised familiar concerns about the Lions, who went 11-5 to earn a wild card but have had their maturity questioned in the past. Caldwell has received a lot of credit for keeping Detroit focused, but the Lions now have some distractions they need to put behind them before the playoffs.

"Anything that goes on on that field, I'm responsible for," Caldwell said. "Whether it's good or whether it's bad. Every call that's made, every action that's taken out there on the field, that's my responsibility, and if there's something that's negative, it's my job to get it changed. If I don't get it changed, I won't be here very long. I do understand that. I've always understood that."

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