The mission for general manager Martin Mayhew this offseason was to get more playmakers on that side of the football, which is a big reason they selected Ziggy Ansah with the No. 5 overall pick.
It took only one series for the rookie defensive end to show his potential in that department.
Ansah intercepted a Mark Sanchez screen pass and returned it 14 yards for a touchdown on his first series in an NFL game ... less than four minutes into the game.
Welcome to Detroit, Ziggy.
“Obviously a great way for Ziggy to say hello,” quarterback
Ansah’s score gave the Lions a lead they never relinquished, as they beat the Jets 26-17 in front of a sold-out crowd of 60,736 at Ford Field in the preseason opener.
For a player who has only been playing football for three years, Ansah has shown terrific instincts to get to the football in training camp practice and an ability to play well in space.
“You know a lot was made of Ziggy’s inexperience,” head coach Jim Schwartz told WXYZ. “We said from the beginning that he plays screens well, he plays draws well and all those kinds of things. We’ve seen that stuff on tape so wasn’t a surprise when he made that play.”
Ansah had a little help on the play with pressure provided by defensive end
“It’s not going to stop there,” defensive tackle
He wasn’t the only rookie defender making plays Friday night, though.
The Lions were a minus-16 in turnover ratio last year, which was a big factor in their 4-12 record. Granted, it’s the preseason, and none of this really counts, but the Lions need more interceptions, more sack fumbles and more big plays from their defense this year. They were plus-two on the night and it’s good to see young players making those kinds of plays early on.
“It’s something that we’ve talked about since the beginning of the offseason,” Schwartz said after the game. “In just evaluating last year and some of the other things, we knew that we needed to protect the ball a little bit better but more than anything we needed to create some turnovers and we saw it on the very first series.”
The first-team defense provided the first spark, but Stafford and the first-team offense helped build the lead on their second possession of the game.
Stafford was 3-of-8 passing for 58 yards in the game with every completion going to Johnson.
“For me personally, it was just good to get back out there,” Stafford said. “I thought we made some big plays and did a good job with out discipline and were assignment sound.”
Both Akers and Rugland were 2-for-2 kicking field goals.