Lions' Hyder getting rush by contributing

Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
Lions defensive lineman Kerry Hyder celebrates a sack of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck in Week 1.

Allen Park — Kerry Hyder isn’t taking a moment of this season for granted. The Detroit Lions defensive lineman still gets choked up during the coin toss before each game, overwhelmed he’s playing a meaningful role in the NFL.

After sneaking onto the roster with an impressive preseason, the Lions were forced to lean on Hyder early in the season when Ziggy Ansah suffered an ankle injury. Hyder responded with at least one sack in each of the first four games.

With Ansah back in the lineup, the Lions have found ways to keep Hyder in the lineup. In fact, he’s played more snaps than anyone along the defensive line the past three weeks.

The Lions have done this by situationally using him as an inside pass rusher, a spot he’s familiar with having played defensive tackle this year. But after dropping 40 pounds this offseason, it’s not the same.

“It’s quite different,” Hyder said. “You try to use your speed and quickness, because I don’t have the girth, I’m not as big as I used to be.

“Whatever they need from me — inside or outside — I’m just trying to help the team. If they think I can rush from the inside, I’m ready to do that.”

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Hyder hasn’t recorded a sack in four straight games, but he’s still having an impact as a pass-rusher, generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He’s also shown significant improvements defending the run and screen passes, two areas where he struggled earlier in the year.

“It’s still new for me, every week,” Hyder said. “I’m just trying to take it in stride and make gains wherever I can. It’s so different being able to play every week and I’m just focused on getting a little bit better each time I’m out there.”

Hyder will look to get back on track against the decimated Minnesota Vikings offensive line, which has allowed 11 sacks the past two weeks. The team has lost both of its starting offensive tackles to injury and left guard Alex Boone hasn’t practiced this week with a concussion.

“Granted, they have some unfortunate situations going on, but I don’t sleep on anyone,” Hyder said. “They might have had a couple bad weeks, but they’re still pros and I expect them to come out strong."

Twitter: @justin_rogers