Michael Roos never has gone against Kyle Vanden Bosch in a game.
Even so, the Tennessee Titans left tackle knows exactly what he’s in for Sunday, when the Titans host the Lions at LP Field (noon, Fox). Exactly.
That’s because for five years Roos, a tackle, practiced with Vanden Bosch, a defensive end who sees little — if any distinction — between workouts and contests in terms of the effort and intensity he puts forth.
“Looking on film, it looks like it’s going to be the same,” Roos said. “I practiced against him for many years but I’ve never gone against him in a game situation. It will be fun out there, I’m sure.
“I’m definitely ready, knowing from those years just how hard you have to go. You can’t fall asleep against him.”
Vanden Bosch was a dream for Titans’ coaches when he joined the team in 2005 as a lightly regarded free agent. Multiple knee injuries during four years with the Arizona Cardinals led many to consider the 2001 second-round pick a bust.
He promptly had a breakout year with 12.5 sacks and the first Pro Bowl invitation of his career. He led Tennessee in sacks three straight years (2005-07) and earned a second Pro Bowl invitation in 2007.
It was his unwavering approach to practice, and the fact that it was indistinguishable from the way he played in games that really caught the attention of teammates.
“To me, there’s only one way to prepare and there’s only one way to play,” Vanden Bosch said. “When I can’t do it that way, I’m doing myself and the game a disservice.”
No one saw it more often or more closely than Roos, a second-round draft pick that season. By 2008, he was a Pro Bowler in his own right.
“To me, he’s one of the better underrated tackles in the league up to this point,” Vanden Bosch said. “… There’s definitely a familiarity there. I don’t know that it gives me an advantage or [him] an advantage.”
Vanden Bosch left the Titans in 2009 as a free agent and signed with Detroit, coached by former Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
This week’s game will be his first visit to the stadium as an opposing player.
“I don’t even think I’ve been in the visitors’ locker room,” he said. “It’ll be different.”
He, however, is the same passionate player he always has been.
Unlike his days with the Titans, when he was a standout performer, he is merely one big name on the Lions’ defensive front, which is considered one of the NFL’s best. That unit includes tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, first-round picks in 2010 and 2011, respectively, and end Cliff Avril.
Detroit’s seven sacks from defensive linemen through two games is second only to Chicago, which has eight. Vanden Bosch got his first of the season Sunday in a loss to San Francisco.
“That’s the strength of their defense, is what they accomplish up front,” Tennessee coach Mike Munchak said. “That’s what they rely on. … They’ve got a great rotation, they’ve got good players, they’re coached well. That’s going to be a huge challenge. I think that’s exactly what we need right now.
“As an offensive line, we need to be challenged by a bunch of guys that can embarrass you if you’re not ready to play football.”
Vanden Bosch, as always, will be one of the first to find out whether or not they are.
“He practices hard, plays hard, good against the run, good against the pass, relentless,” Schwartz said. “All those things that everybody remembers about him he still does for us.”
Roos certainly hasn’t forgotten.
“I think it helped me a lot,” he said. “I also think I helped him too. We always were talking and trying to help each other out. It was good going against a guy like that, especially early in my career. He was relentless and wouldn’t stop. So it was good practice for me.”