Lions’ Hyder ready to ‘ramp it up’ for 2018 return

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — After missing the 2017 season with an Achilles injury, Detroit Lions defensive end Kerry Hyder is confident he’ll get back wreaking havoc in the backfield next year, once his rehab is complete.

“I’m midway,” Hyder said last week. “I’m extremely confident. I’m looking forward to coming back. It’s a small bump in the road on a long journey. I’m not even worried about it. Of course, going through it, it was tough initially. But I’ve accepted it and I’ve moved on. I’m looking forward to the 2018 season and I know I’m going to be back, better than ever.”

A breakout performer in 2016, Hyder went from practice squad unknown to the team’s sack leader, dropping opposing passers eight times. Leading up to that season, he dropped 40 pounds after coaches asked him to convert from a defensive tackle to a defensive end.

Hyder entered last season as a projected starter, opposite Ziggy Ansah. But in the first quarter of the Detroit’s first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts, he dropped to the ground with a non-contact injury.

More than four months removed from surgery, he’s still not running, but he’s inching closer to full strength each day.

“For me, this was pretty much my offseason in season, so I’m going to ramp it up,” he said. “I’m ready to train hard and rehab and get ready for the season. Everyone is turning down and I’m pretty much turning it up these next couple weeks, from the training aspect.”

With the Lions’ coach staff, and by extension defensive scheme, up in the air following the firing of Jim Caldwell, Hyder isn’t concerned about where he’ll fit in next season, even if the next coach wants to install a 3-4 defense.

“I’ve been, some would say cursed, when I was at (Texas) Tech, I had five different D-coordinators, so I play D-line, man,” Hyder said. “Wherever they want to put me, that’s up to them. I like playing D-line. If it’s 3-4, 4-3, it doesn’t matter to me.”

With Hyder out, the Lions struggled to rush the passer. Despite Anthony Zettel making significant strides in his second season, the team had to rely heavily on blitzing and still finished 26th in pressure rate and 20th in sacks. It would have been worse if not for a six-sack flurry from Ansah the final two weeks.

Hyder said he watched every game, and was proud of the way his teammates fought, but couldn’t help wondering what kind of difference he could have made, if healthy.

But it wasn’t all bad. Once he got over the initial shock and disappointment that his season was over, he found the positive in his injury — focusing his newfound free time on being a dad.

“My daughter is three, and I don’t (normally) get that time with her, so I took advantage of it,” he said. “I took it as a blessing and I’m just looking forward to the next step, which is 2018.”