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Lions' Caldwell expects bounce-back season from Ngata

Michael Thomas / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Haloti Ngata's first year in Detroit didn't exactly go as planned.

The veteran defensive tackle, acquired in a trade from the Baltimore Ravens last March, struggled with injuries throughout a season in which the Lions' defense fell from second to 18th in average yards allowed.

With the 32-year-old healthy ahead of this year's training camp, head coach Jim Caldwell expects him to recapture the form he enjoyed during his highly successful stint with the Ravens.

"He's hard to handle because he’s a big, powerful man that can run," Caldwell said Thursday, according to Paula Pasche of The Oakland Press. "We're getting a sense of that now. Last year he was a bit hampered a little. You didn't quite get to see who he truly can be. You saw it in spurts last year.

"I think you're going to see it more consistently this year and he's been really good during the course of the spring, so that power and explosiveness down there in the trenches, when he lines up on the edge of an offensive lineman, you've got to think twice about how you're going to handle him schematically."

Though Ngata finished the year having missed just two starts, injury issues still had a noticeable impact on his typically steady play. A hamstring injury forced him to miss the entire preseason, while a calf issue limited him for the better part of the year thereafter.

Ngata returning to his Pro Bowl form would go a long way toward helping the Lions' defense take a step back in the right direction.

He and second-round rookie A'Shawn Robinson combine to give Detroit a stout tandem of interior run defenders, and thus an ideal complement to the pass-rush abilities of Ziggy Ansah on the edge.

- With h/t to Pro Football Talk

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