Caldwell tries to temper expectations on Kyle Van Noy

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — When the Lions drafted Kyle Van Noy in the second round in May, general manager Martin Mayhew immediately pegged him as a starter.

Van Noy didn't have a chance to impress as the strong-side linebacker early as he started the season on injured reserve with designation for return. On Sunday, he will make his debut, but coach Jim Caldwell is tempering external expectations.

"We certainly know what he's capable of. He's a guy that can run, he's athletic, I think you'll find that he'll be good in the run and pass," Caldwell said.

"But don't expect him to come out and set the world on fire."

The 6-foot-3, 252-pound Van Noy will play special teams and as a rotational linebacker Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, Caldwell said. Ashlee Palmer is still listed as the starter on the strong side, and the Lions have had great cohesion on the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense.

But in Van Noy, the Lions hope to have a versatile player who can rush the passer and drop in coverage, so at some point, they should give him a chance to see what he can add.

Van Noy, who's declined interviews this week, suffered a core muscle injury in training camp that required surgery after the second exhibition game, but he's been healthy for weeks.

"The young man has a chance to kind of develop and get going, get his feet underneath him and we'll see how he does," Caldwell said. "Just don't expect him to go out and play like a 15-year vet. This is a fast game, it's a difficult game for a young guy, but he has the skills and ability to get in there and contribute well for us."