Lions defensive line fueled by young coach

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (WXYZ) -- If you venture out to Lions training camp this year, there's one guy you won't miss.

His shirt -- drenched with sweat minutes into practice.

His voice -- usually worn hoarse.

Anyone that's watched the Lions defensive line develop into a league wrecking ball needs to know the animated driving force behind the scenes, second year coach Kris Kocurek.

"Oh he's got a motor, man. He don't stop," defensive tackle Corey Williams said.

"Kris is one of a kind. I've never had a coach like him," rookie defensive tackle Nick Fairley proclaimed.

"You'll catch him behind the line and next thing you know he's 30 yards down the field with us running after and chasing the ball."

After follwing a coaching path that Head Coach Jim Schwartz said included "a lot of sacrifices," Kocurek landed in Detroit in 2008 as the assistant defensive line coach. He took over longtime defensive line coach Bob Karmelowicz's post last season after the veteran coach passed away.

"Just since day one, I set out and said we're gonna be the hardest working group in the league," the 32-year old said.

"It comes to a matter of proving it to the players with my energy on the field. The players are gonna feed off what I do."

All-Pro defensive end Ndamukong Suh said Kocurek has been in his shoes before, playing under Schwartz with Tennessee for a year in 2002.

"His yelling isn't just yelling just to yell," Suh explained.

"It's constructive yelling and energizing at the same time."

Corey Williams shed some light on his coach's aggressive coaching style.

"The funniest thing about it, is one day he needed an IV. After practice, one day he got a little too excited from yelling and screaming."

Kocurek is only two days older than Lions defensive captain Kyle Vanden Bosch. His age and constant intensity are two factors you'd think would turn off a group of pros. But for this group of Lions, he's the perfect leader.

"We've got a lot of high profile players in our group," Kyle Vanden Bosch said. "They don't just give out respect. But from day one, Kris has earned our respect."

First round pick Nick Fairley is Kocurek's newest pupil, looking to bolster the league's most improved defensive line from 2010.

"We're a tight knit group," Kocurek said.

"We can't work the way we work. We can't play with the effort we play with and have guys not like each other in the group. So when we get a new guy to the group, he's a guy who's gonna make us better."

Fairley said Suh, Vanden Bosch, and Kocurek are always "breathing down his neck." The college standout excelled on the national stage in this year's BCS Championship game. He's used to pressure.

That will come in handy with this coach, and this talented group, priding itself on being the hardest-working unit in the league.

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