NOTEBOOK: Ansah in the ROY conversation; kicker workouts; Martin working out the kinks and more

Posted Dec 3, 2013

Rookie Defensive end Ziggy Ansah has recorded four sacks in his last four games and has joined the conversation for rookie of the year honors

Ziggy Ansah swears he hasn’t done anything different over the last two weeks.

The Detroit Lions’ rookie first-round pick has recorded four sacks over his last two games and now has seven for the season, which leads all rookies.

Ansah hasn’t changed his diet. He’s not lifting anymore weights than usual. There’s no weird superstitions involved.

"I don’t think it’s anything specific," Ansah said of why the sacks seem to be coming in bunches right now. "I just try to be better every single day. I just try to make plays.

"I feel more comfortable every single week. I came in as a rookie and I’m trying my best not to play like a rookie."

Mission accomplished the last two weeks in particular.

Ansah took a couple weeks off because of an ankle injury and says the time off might have been a blessing in disguise. Since coming back Week 12 vs. Tampa Bay, Ansah has looked refreshed and has been simply dominant.

"I honestly think that he was doing similar things early on," head coach Jim Schwartz said. "If you take some of the ones that were taken away with penalties somewhere else, I think you’d be looking at a different thing right now.

"He just has those instincts. He’s around the football and he’s very comfortable in our defensive scheme. He doesn’t have to worry. I don’t think this has ever slowed him down."

Ansah’s sudden burst in production has him being mentioned as a candidate for defensive rookie of the year.

Ziggy AnsahDE Ziggy Ansah (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

"It would be fun to win it, " Ansah said. "But I wouldn’t say that’s my main focus right now. I’m just doing whatever I can just to help my team win. I just make plays on the field, and if I’m rookie of the year, that’s great."

Ansah’s development this season has been one of the more pleasant surprises from April’s draft.

"I guess you say the book on him is that he was an inexperienced player and it was going to take time and things like that," Schwartz said. "Our experience with him at the Senior Bowl was different. He was a fast learner and he picked things up very quickly.

"He was naturally instinctive for the game and things that challenge other inexperienced players like screens and reverses and draws and things like that, those were the best plays that he would make."


The Lions have brought in no less than five kickers to look at over the last couple days, but Schwartz told reporters Tuesday that he still had confidence in veteran David Akers.

"I am confident in all 53 guys on our roster and that’s why they are here," he said. "All 53, if the opportunity came for them to go into the game, whether it is Akers, or its Shaun Hill or its Kellen Moore, they are here because we have confidence that they can go in and get the job done for us. "

Akers is 15-of-20 kicking field goals this year and is coming off a game on Thanksgiving in which he missed a 31 yarder at the end of the first half.

"We have done a good job being proactive over the course of the season and being ready for things that have come up," Schwartz said of the kicker workouts. "I think you have seen a couple examples of that already this year with us signing of Kevin Ogletree and Jeremy Ross and we have added guys to our practice squad.

"I think Martin (Mayhew) has always been firm in saying that there is no finish line when it comes to the roster. We have to be ready for anything that comes and what has gone on here over the last few days is no different than that."


Schwartz joked during Tuesday’s session with the media that the best offensive plays the Packers had on Thanksgiving were the two kickoffs Sam Martin kicked out of bounds.

Schwartz could laugh about now, because the blunders didn’t end up costing Detroit the win. They could have, though.

Martin said he watched film Monday and Tuesday and figured out a technique issue that was causing him to pull the ball hard left.

"It’s an easy fix," he said. "It was one of those games. Something like that, mid-game, it’s hard to identify. You try fixing it in a game, you end up doing something else.

"I watched film yesterday, I watched film today and figured it out. I was just putting them through the posts out there."

He explained the technique issue that caused the problem:

"I was planting real hard," he said. "It was causing me to whip my right leg around and over compensate.

"Rather than getting my whole body behind the ball, I’m just swinging my leg. If it was something where I went out there today and still couldn’t figure it out, then I’d be concerned. I think I got it fixed."


When the Tennessee Titans called and tried to sign guard Rodney Austin off the Lions practice squad, Austin wanted to give the Lions the opportunity to keep him.

"It’s always been a situation where I like being in Detroit, so I was going to do everything I could to give them a chance to match the offer before I left," Austin said.

That’s exactly what the Lions did when they promoted Austin from the practice squad to the active roster.

"He’s a good, young player," Schwartz said. "He’s played a little bit of center, but he’s really a guard for us. He’s improved. He came from a small school. He made a run last year in training camp and continued that through the off season this year and through training camp and is a guy that we think has a future."