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Louis Delmas’ energy fuels Lions’ defense

Louis Delmas

Louis Delmas

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Updated: November 21, 2012 6:13AM

Ndamukong Suh and the Detroit Lions’ outstanding defensive line present a formidable challenge for the Bears. But safety Louis Delmas might be the player the Bears should be worried about the most — you never know where he might come from.

The high-flying, hard-hitting Delmas adds an element of fear that invigorates the Lions’ defense. The difference was never more evident than in the team’s 26-23 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in Philadelphia.

Playing for the first time this season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Aug. 7, Delmas had seven tackles, including two tackles for loss, and an interception — the Lions’ first of the season.

‘‘With him, it’s a different defense,’’ Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said. ‘‘I like the way he plays. He brings a lot of energy. He comes downhill. He’s active in the passing game. He’s a really good player.’’

When Lions coach Jim Schwartz was asked earlier this week if Delmas sets the tone for the Lions’ edgy defense with his passion, he deferred to Delmas.

‘‘I think a bigger boost to us was getting Louis Delmas back,’’ Schwartz said. ‘‘He covers a lot of ground. He’s a very good tackler. He’s active in the pass game. He had an interception, almost had another one on a great break on the ball. He’s our emotional leader, particularly on defense. His play was contagious for us.’’

The Lions were 7-3 last season and tied with the Packers late in the first quarter when Delmas originally suffered the knee injury. Aaron Rodgers was 20-for-29 for 280 yards and two touchdowns after Delmas left, leading the Packers to a 27-20 victory.

The Lions went 3-3 without Delmas, allowing 27 points or more in five of those games. Delmas returned for the Lions’ playoff game against the Saints and had 10 tackles but no negative plays in a 45-10 loss.

The Lions were 1-3 this season before Delmas returned.

‘‘He’s like our Ray Lewis to the defense,’’ cornerback Chris Houston told the Detroit Free Press. ‘‘[He] brings the energy, brings the swagger, makes plays and makes other younger players feed off of him. He brings that energy, and that’s the main thing we need him to keep doing, bring that energy because some people need somebody else to get them started.’’

The Lions already are strong up front with defensive tackles Suh (21/2 sacks) and Nick Fairley (11/2) and defensive ends Cliff Avril (31/2) and Kyle Vanden Bosch (21/2).

‘‘They get after the quarterback,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘What they have is not only guys on the outside, but those two inside can get a push. Whenever you feel pressure on the outside and you step up and they’re getting a push in there, there’s not a lot of room to operate. It’s a big challenge for us.’’

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