It’s been a long time since Ziggy Ansah has practiced with his teammates. In fact, you'd have to go all the way back to last season to find the last time Ansah was taking part in practice.
He had shoulder surgery right after the season ended and missed the entire offseason. He began training camp on the PUP list, but was taken off Tuesday afternoon and joined his teammates for Tuesday night’s practice under the lights in Allen Park.
It’s been a long time coming for Ansah and his coaches and teammates had a little fun at his expense in the team meeting Tuesday afternoon. Ansah was forced to stand up and introduce himself to the team because he’s been out so long.
Then came time for practice and it seemed like his name had been changed to “Hey new guy.”
His teammates may have been joking around, but they all know how important it is to have him back on the field and practicing.
“He showed that he was able to step in as a rookie and create plays for us,” veteran cornerback
The Lions’ first-round pick last year (No. 5 overall) led all rookies with eight sacks last season and also chipped in two forced fumbles. He figures to play a prominent role in this year’s defense.
“You all have been waiting a long time to talk to me,” Ansah told media members after practice. “It feels good to be back.
“Just as long as you all have been waiting to talk to me, I’ve been waiting just as much to get back on the field with my teammates.”
Now comes the task of shaking off the rust and getting up to speed after the long time off. Mental reps are much different than physical reps and the regular season is fast approaching.
“He’s not going to play this weekend,” head coach Jim Caldwell said of Friday night’s preseason game in Oakland. “He’ll be able to catch up pretty quickly.
“One of the things with four guys up front, it’s not really too different from what he’s been accustomed to, just in terms of knowing games and stunts and things of that nature, which changes rush lengths a little bit.
“But he’s been working and sort of ramping up his activity, as you could see every single week. So he’s getting a little bit more work with his pads on, working with the trainers and he’ll be ready to go in due time. But we’ll take our time and there will be a progression to it, but we’ll see how he comes along.”
Ansah went through individual drills Tuesday night but didn’t get any team reps.
TUESDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
The Lions open the regular season with a Monday night football game. They’ll also play on London time midseason and go out west over the course of the season.
It’s for that reason Caldwell has been very good about putting these players through a lot of different situations in camp. They’ve practiced at night at Wayne State, Ford Field and Tuesday night in Allen Park under rented lights.
They’ve practiced in the morning and in the afternoon, all to get these players used to different situations.
“I think it’s very, very important that you give your team as many opportunities as you can to get ready for challenges that they may face and this is the time to do it – during training camp.” Caldwell said.
Caldwell said he also liked the idea of going outside in wet and rainy conditions Tuesday night.
“I also like the fact that it’s still raining, not necessarily with the problems that we’re having in the community, but we’d like a little adversity with the rain,” he said.
“We’ve gotta be an indoor team with an outdoor mentality, so we’re working in those elements to give us a real challenge.”
Whenever full pads come on practice is usually a little more spirited, but add an offense vs. defense goal line period to the mix and things can really amp up, which they did Tuesday night.
“Whenever goal line is involved it’s going to get everyone riled up,” Mathis admitted.
There were six live reps and the offense scored twice and the defense stopped them four times.
The challenge kicked off a few weeks ago when the family of 29-year-old Pete Frates decided to do something to raise awareness of ALS.
All people have to do to join the cause is pour a bucket of ice water over their head, at the same time challenging a friend or co-worker, or in the case of Tate a teammate and head coach, to do the same within 24 hours.
If someone posts the challenge and it's not met, that person has to make a donation to ALS.
-- Defensive end
-- The offense still seems to be having trouble with the quarterback/center snap exchange. Stafford fumbled on consecutive plays in a goal line period from both