Head coach Jim Caldwell isn’t giving up hope he might see talented pass rusher Ziggy Ansah make his preseason debut against Jacksonville at Ford Field Friday night.
Ansah was activated from the PUP list last week, but was immediately ruled out of the Oakland game later that week.
The Lions have been adding more and more to his workload this week and are still holding out hope he can make his preseason debut vs. Jacksonville.
“He’s responded well and we’ve gotten him in more scrimmages and plays in practice,” Caldwell said. “We increase them on a daily basis, so hopefully, we’ll be able to check with the doctors after today’s practice and see where he is and hopefully he’ll be able to get some sacks.”
The main objective for the Lions is for Ansah to be ready for the regular season, but defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said it would be nice for his second-year defensive end to get some preseason action before the real thing begins in a couple weeks.
Austin is expecting big things from Ansah.
“We’ve only had him back for a week or so, but I think when you look at him, he’s extremely talented,” Austin said. “He’s explosive, big, fast. I think for him it’s just going to be a matter of technique.
“Continuing to work on his technique because he’s still pretty young as a football player and knowing how to apply that to offensive tackles and the guy he’s going to attack and being able to use that in a game. He’s got a chance to be an outstanding rusher.”
PRACTICE SQUAD EXPANDED
The NFL expanded the practice squad from eight to 10 players Tuesday afternoon, which means 64 more players will now have jobs in the league this season.
But the NFL also tweaked some of the eligibility requirements surrounding the practice squad that allows a much greater pool of talent to be included among the practice–squad players.
Players still only have three seasons of eligibility on the squad, but a player will need to be on the roster for six games to use up a season of eligibility instead of the old rule of three.
Also, teams are now permitted to carry up to two players on the practice squad with two accrued seasons of free agent credits. What that means is now teams can place up to two players on the practice squad who have been on a 53-man roster for two years.
“I think it’s a good thing,” head coach Jim Caldwell said. “I think it gives more opportunities for guys.
“Oftentimes, you end up releasing players that you‘d like to keep around in your organization so this will give us a chance to keep a couple more and obviously it gives a little more flexibility in at least two of the ten than we’ve had previously, so that’s a good thing.”
During halftime of most games at Ford Field, the Lions invite two local youth football teams to play a scrimmage on the field before the Lions and their opponent come back out for the second half.
The Lions will be doing the same on Friday during halftime of the Jacksonville game. The Southfield Falcons will be playing the Howell Freshman Black.
Southfield’s inclusion Friday night has some significance in that two players from the Lions and two players from the Jaguars are alums of that football program.
NO DUNKING FOR MEGATRON
New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham faces $33,075 dollars in fines after two celebratory slam-dunks over the goal post in a recent preseason game vs. Tennessee.
The league banned that particular celebration this offseason and attached an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a fine for whomever does it. Graham, obviously, doesn’t care about the penalty yards or the fine.
Calvin Johnson’s touchdown celebration the last few years has been the same dunk over the goal post. However, Johnson likes his money and plans to hang onto it.
“I’m not letting Goodell get in my pockets," Johnson said.
As for a new celebration: “We’re going to come up with something as a group, I believe," he said. "Golden and a couple of the guys are talking about coming up with something. You might see something from the receivers.”
Teammate Joe Fauria has offered up his services if Johnson wants some help finding a new celebration.
"Being the, let's say the guy who is above all else when it comes to touchdown dances, I would be open to giving advice to my fellow temmate Calvin Johnson because that's one thing that I am actually better than him at," Fauria said. "I'm throwing it out there, 'Calvin, I am better than you at dancing.'"
PLAYING WITH A SPLINT
After undergoing finger surgery this fall, Johnson acknowledged that he has a custom splint, but that it does not affect him negatively catching the ball.
“We’ll give it a go," he said. "You don’t think about it.”
A reporter then asked what finger it was.
“Don’t worry," he said. "Too much detail.”
A reporter then asked, "how about giving us the Manziel to show us?"
“No. Can’t do that," Johnson said, "The camera’s on me.”