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Suh is smart for wanting to rehab image

Ndamukong Suh says he wants to rehabilitate his reputation.

That’s a good start and a smart move for someone who could be one of the most likable players in the game if he can get the opinions about him as a dirty player to change.

Changing your rep, though, comes from more than words. It comes from decisive and consistent actions over an extended period of time and thus far, Suh has shown some ability to change, although there have certainly been slip-ups.

The biggest has been the $100,000 fine in Week 1 for a low hit on Minnesota center John Sullivan. If another player made that play, he wouldn't have been fined six figures. If it was another player in the league, perhaps the play wouldn't have been seen as an extension of everything else that has happened over the course of his career.

But this is where Suh is. The Suh of the present, the player who has been mostly in check this season while playing more consistently than he ever has in the past, is still battling with the Suh of the past, the guy who appeared to go after quarterbacks often.

He plays harder than anyone else for longer than anyone else, and it culminated in a nationally televised stomp on Evan Dietrich-Smith two years ago on Thanksgiving, resulting in a two-game suspension.

Frankly, it’s hard to come back from that and it is going to take time -- probably longer than Suh will want it to take. Yes, he’s cut down on his penalties on the field and is a well-spoken, intelligent person and pitchman off of it, but the first impression of someone is often the lasting one in today’s culture.

And the first one of Suh, for many, was tossing a quarterback to the ground or stomping on an offensive lineman.

But it also goes to consistency. If Suh can show he can consistently behave and consistently keep himself from getting fined, that would go a long way to rehabilitating his reputation in the league and with the public.

He appeared to be doing well this season, too, after the Sullivan fine. The hit on Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden that he was fined for was questionable at best and actually seemed to turn some people in favor of the argument that Suh was being unfairly targeted by the NFL.

The throat-slash gesture penalty he got against Tampa Bay, though, was a step backward.

So rehabbing his image will take time. It will take consistency on the field and in the way he portrays himself -- which has been good for the most part -- off of it.