Ziggy Ansah shows the kind of athleticism that made him a high pick

Posted May 10, 2013

In the work he did during the first rookie practice, Ansah showed the kind of speed and athleticism that made him the No. 5-overall pick in last month’s NFL Draft

After putting on his Lions helmet and Lions jersey for the first time in the locker room before Friday's first rookie mini-camp practice, Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah said he took a brief moment to himself to let it all soak in.

"For a split second it was a sigh of relief," he told media members after practice. "Just taking a deep breath. Bring it all out. And time to work."

Work he did, exclusively from the right side during the practice that featured eight of the Lions nine draft picks and 49 players in all.

Ansah showed the kind of speed and athleticism that made him the No. 5-overall pick in last month's NFL Draft.

In one drill in particular, co-defensive line coach Jim Washburn stood on one side of an abnormally large hula hoop with Ansah and the other defensive lineman on the opposite side in a three-point stance.

Jim WashburnJim Washburn running a drill with his defensive linemen. (Photo: C. Wywrot/

Washburn had a small, bouncy ball in one hand and a board on the ground. When he released the ball, the players had to burst out of their three-point stance and snatch the ball out of midair before it bounced on the board a second time.

Ansah made the drill look easy until Washburn made them start farther and farther back. He's got that kind of explosiveness.

He also showed a little too much eagerness and a bit of nerves at times. For his first play in 11-on-11 drills, he jumped offside.

"Yeah I did," Ansah said when asked about having any nerves. "And I was able to get (them) out."

The nerves Ansah felt had to have been eased at least a little bit by mere fact of his familiarity with the Lions coaching staff from their time together at the Senior Bowl.

"He looks athletic obviously," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of his new defensive end after practice. "We knew that. This is not the first practice we've had with Ziggy Ansah.

"We had the whole week of practice and the whole game day at the Senior Bowl, so it wasn't our first look at him. We knew what to expect from him athletically. But just watching the guys go about it, you can tell that everything's new to him, but he picks things up quickly."

Ansah said it didn't take long for him to remember some of the installation and play calls from that week with the coaching staff down in Mobile, Alabama.

"It was pretty much the same thing that we're doing Day 1," he said. "It's pretty simple installation. We ran some of the plays during the Senior Bowl. It was helpful."

Friday was a big day for Ansah. Not only did he participate in his first NFL practice, but he also signed a five-year deal that will pay him a reported $18.59 million with an $11.9 million signing bonus.

That's a full day.

The Lions have a big need for an impact defensive end along the edge of their defensive line, and they drafted Ansah with the expectation that he can fill that role.

But Ansah said he isn't allowing his contract or his draft status to put any unneeded pressure on himself to prove he deserved both.

"If I think about that I might make mistakes on the field," Ansah said. "All I have to do is focus on the play and focus on what my coaches have for me and just work hard and get better every day."