Seattle defensive end Cliff Avril began his NFL career in Detroit in 2008. It took him until 2009, though, to experience an NFL win.
Avril’s rookie year was also the season the Lions went 0-16, an experience he relived Friday when he met the media to talk about reuniting with a few of his former teammates Monday night when the Seahawks host Detroit.
“What do you learn?,” Avril said when asked about that season. “You learn that you don’t want to experience that again or you’re going to get fired. I mean, I was a rookie just trying to find my way, just get on the field and try to make plays, try not to be the reason why. You wanted to be some kind of bright spot for the following year. I knew the coaching staff and all of that was going to change so for me it was just about getting on the field and trying to make plays.”
He did well enough to become a key part of a revival with the Lions, making 39.5 sacks from 2008-12 — fifth-most in Detroit history — before signing with the Seahawks as a free agent in 2013.
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This will be his first game against his former team, though Avril says it’s no big deal.
“No, not really, for the simple fact that it’s not even the same coaching staff (with Jim Caldwell having replaced Jim Schwartz),” Avril said. “I think it’s the same GM, but no, just another game. Happy to be playing them, Monday Night Football in our stadium so we’re just going to have fun.”
Avril also laughed off the fact that Pro Football Focus currently has him rated as the top defensive end in a 4-3 defense.
“Nobody cares about that,” he said. “Nobody really has a ton of sacks right now. I guess that’s cool, but it’s only week three. I’ve just got to continue to keep getting better, continue to keep making the plays I’m supposed to make and hopefully I’ll continue to be there at week 16.”
“. … I guess it just puts focus on my game in general, not just sacks but how I’m playing the run, the pressures, the hits. I guess people finally care about those too. I think that’s really all it says, but really again, it’s just for me to keep grinding, keep getting better and keep making the plays I’m supposed to make, and getting after the quarterback. Hopefully we do get sacks while doing that.”