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Taking a nap used to drive Glover Quin crazy.

As a kid growing up in southwest Mississippi, all Quin wanted to do was play outside from dawn until dusk. He has three sisters, so time spent inside meant soap operas on television. If he fell asleep and his mother told him a friend or relative had come by wanting to play football or basketball, he hated missing the chance.

"I wanted to play so bad," he said.

That desire — along with a finely-tuned body with exceptional strength for someone his size — has helped the Lions safety become one of the most reliable players in the NFL. Since 2010, Quin is one of 12 defensive backs who hasn't missed a game — three years with the Texans and the last two with the Lions.

Quin moved from cornerback to safety with the Texans in 2011, but many of his statistics stack up against any secondary players. His 66 passes defensed are the most of any safety since 2009 and tied for 19th among all defensive backs. And, his 15 interceptions since 2010 are tied for fourth among safeties and 12th among defensive backs.

As reliable as he's been, though, Quin has battled injuries.

Those, however, have not deterred him.

A torn ligament in his ankle in Week 4 of 2013? X-rays didn't show any breaks, and he didn't want to miss his first game at Lambeau Field. But a couple of weeks later, he had an MRI yet still started every game and missed just a few practices.

A broken right hand with the Texans in 2010? He played the next game and made his first three interception.

A broken arm at junior college in 2004? He finished the game.

A groin injury as a junior at New Mexico in 2007? He played until the muscle ruptured, had surgery and returned after missing two games.

"If I could run halfway decently, then I wanted to play," said Quin, whose only absence was with a brain injury as a rookie in 2009.

Last season, Quin finally was healthy. He led the league with seven interceptions, was named a second-team All-Pro and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Now, with Ndamukong Suh gone, Quin, linebacker DeAndre Levy or defensive end Ezekiel Ansah likely will become the top player on the Lions defense, and according to Pro Football Focus' analysis, Quin has improved each year since switching to safety in 2011.

Workout warrior

Though injuries are unpredictable, Quin's durability is related to tenacity in the weight room.

As a senior at New Mexico in 2008, he won the team's Beefmaster award for excellence in the strength and conditioning program. His college biography lists his achievements — 360 pounds on the bench press, 328 on power clean, 500 on squat and 305 on the incline press.

"That's the cream of the crop when you start talking about defensive backs," said Cedric Smith, strength and conditioning coach for the Texans.

The 6-foot, 206-pound Quin said he maxed out at 385 pounds on the bench, but doesn't lift excessive weight much these days. Instead, he focuses on playing strength and endurance, choosing to do several reps at lighter weights.

During the offseason, Quin begins training in February and works out on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. When team workouts begin in April, he bumps it up to four days a week. And when summer arrives, he starts two-a-days on three of the four days.

The difference in the offseason, though, is Quin doesn't help his body recover much until training camp begins. There are no cold tubs or hot tubs. He has fewer massages, and doesn't stick to the strict diet he employs during the season.

"When my muscles are tired, I want them to figure out how to get through the day, and for me and for my muscles, we've got to figure out a way to fight through the soreness," he said.

Even when Quin broke his hand in 2010, he was in the weight room working on everything else.

"It's not just about you getting bigger and becoming this big, stiff, unathletic guy," Smith said. "It's about protecting your body as an NFL player. This is going to prolong your career if guys will listen to it, and Glover listened."

Unheralded recruit

Quin said Mississippi State coaches recruited him out of North Pike High in Summit, but then-coach Jackie Sherrill retired after the 2003 season. Quin was a senior, and new Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom never offered him a scholarship.

So, Quin went to Southwest Mississippi Community College in his hometown and spent two years there. But he still wasn't drawing much attention — he was listed as a two-star recruit by Rivals.com.

Rocky Long, who coached at New Mexico from 1998-2008, said his staff discovered Quin at an all-star game in Mississippi, and thought he was the best defensive back on the field.

"Everybody missed the boat on him, and we were lucky enough that he was still out there," Long said.

Quin started all 13 games as a sophomore in 2006. He missed two games in 2007, and remembers being frustrated about the groin injury because it held him out of a victory over Arizona. He returned and started every game as a senior and had five interceptions and 16 passes defensed.

Long, at San Diego State since 2011, said Quin was the second-best player he's coached, behind former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

"When they're underappreciated, I think sometimes they come with a little chip on their shoulder," Long said. "And if they have the athletic ability and an attitude to do it, they go out to prove everybody wrong."

Making the switch

With his frame, some people believed Quin's best fit in the NFL would be at safety. Had he tried out as a safety at the combine, his 4.5-second 40-yard dash, 38-inch vertical and 22 bench reps would have ranked in the top five in 2009.

Instead, he worked out as a cornerback and slipped to the fourth round. By Week 4 of his rookie year, though, he was starting at cornerback.

Quin played inside and outside cornerback for the Texans until defensive coordinator Wade Phillips arrived in 2011 and had him switch to safety.

But after playing safety two years, the Lions signed Quin to a five-year, $23.5 million deal.

Last year, Quin had 73 tackles and an NFL-best seven interceptions. He also made several timely plays, including interceptions that altered victories over the Saints and Vikings. There also was an acrobatic, one-handed, across-his-body interception against the Buccaneers and a toe-tapping sideline pick against the Bears that sealed the victory.

Cornerback Josh Wilson, who spent last season with the Falcons, said he wanted to sign with the Lions because of how Quin and safety James Ihedigbo performed. And, defensive end Darryl Tapp said Quin helps the linemen feel confident about having an extra split second to pressure the quarterback.

Fellow safety Isa Abdul-Quddus said he pays attention to Quin's workout regimen as he's tried to develop his own.

Last week, Quin was ranked No. 88 on the NFL Network's Top 100 list, but the angst in his voice was clear as he noted some analyst didn't agree with him being that high.

"I actually think about how all my life I felt like I've always been fighting for respect, fighting for recognition, fighting for all those other things," Quin said. "That's really part of what drives me to keep doing it."

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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