ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Ndamukong Suh was back with his teammates at practice, and he was almost done talking to reporters when he made an odd reference to the beginning of his career with the Detroit Lions.
Suh says he could have played elsewhere when he entered the league. The Lions took him with the second overall pick in the 2010 draft.
"Probably a lot of you guys don't know, I could have gone elsewhere when I was drafted. I had that decision in my hands," Suh said. "I chose not to take it, because that's just the way I saw it."
Suh was responding to a question about whether he wants to stay with Detroit long term — his point was that his decision to play for the Lions in the first place was evidence of his commitment. But he did not elaborate much when asked how, exactly, he might have ended up elsewhere four years ago.
"There's many ways to do things," Suh said. "You can drop down in the draft, you can move up in the draft. People can come get you. There's a lot of things that happen that you guys don't know. ... It is for sure my choice, but like I said, that's water under the bridge, I'm here in Detroit. I'm happy to be here in Detroit, and I'm going to continue to play my heart out, as I've always done."
Suh is entering the last season of his contract, so his future with the Lions is unclear.
He skipped the team's voluntary minicamp last month, but he's stayed away from voluntary workouts before in his career. He is taking part in organized team activities now, and was at practice Wednesday. The two-time All-Pro has always gotten himself physically ready to play.
"This is the same time I came last year," Suh said. "I've been in a great program, one that's dialed in exactly to me and what's best for my body, to have longevity, which has been proven. I haven't missed many games, if any at all. So that's what I do. I stayed close to that program."
Suh said his absence had nothing to do with contract talks.
"If it was about my contract, I wouldn't be here now," he said.
Suh said he's not putting a timetable on his contract negotiations.
Suh said he was probably one of the first players on the team to meet with members of Detroit's new coaching staff. The Lions fired Jim Schwartz and replaced him with Jim Caldwell after last season.
Suh isn't buying the idea that his absence during the offseason affects his ability to be a leader. Suh became a captain last season.
"Last year I came in at the same exact time," Suh said. "I showed that I was worthy of wearing a 'C' at that point in time."
As for Caldwell, he seemed happy to move on from the constant questions about whether Suh would be participating in the team's offseason work.
"He looks good, obviously. He's in very fine shape, as always," Caldwell said. "He's one of those guys — he knows how to take care of his body. He's certainly done a great job with that, and he's fit and excited about being here."
Indeed, Suh looked ready to practice Wednesday, at one point knocking two blockers back almost into the quarterback during a drill.
"He's back and he's in full swing, and doing everything above and beyond," center Dominic Raiola said. "I don't know if you guys watched practice close, but you can see him doing extra steps, taking extra conditioning measures, finishing down the field 40 yards. We see all that. If I see all that, I know everybody else sees all that."
NOTES: Caldwell said WR Golden Tate was absent because he was with the Seattle Seahawks for their presidential visit. Tate played for the Super Bowl-winning Seahawks last season.