Ziggy Ansah spent his practice day Tuesday working on his own. He did pass-rush drills, hitting blocking dummies under the supervision of the Lions’ training staff.
After practice, Ansah signed autographs for a group of kids. Ansah was personable, which is typical. He took time to talk and did not act like he was in any rush to hurry off to the locker room.
After he left the kids, Ansah headed for the locker room before a reporter lingering nearby could ask any questions about the state of his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery.
It was a cheerful snub by Ansah, who smiled and offered a handshake. He has put off doing interviews in training camp until – at least – he has been cleared to begin practice. That could be soon, but not likely in time for the second-year defensive end to play in the Lions’ opening preseason game against the Cleveland Browns Saturday night at Ford Field.
In between doing solo drills and making the day for a group of kids, Ansah was a spectator in training camp.
Ansah was put on the physical-unable-to-perform (PUP) list before the start of training camp. NFL rules prohibit players on the PUP list from taking part in team drills. Ansah has worked on his own for the first eight practice days of training camp.
Obviously, the Lions would like to have every player available for practice, but head coach Jim Caldwell doesn’t seem concerned that Ansah’s rehabilitation period will extend to the regular season.
Ansah had a promising rookie season playing right defensive end. He led all rookies with eight sacks, despite missing two games. His performance validated the decision to draft him fifth overall out of Brigham Young.
“I’m not worried about him,” Caldwell said after Tuesday’s practice. “He’s progressing well. He’s working. They keep ramping up his activity. He hasn’t had setbacks. We feel good about where he is.”
Caldwell was asked what Ansah brings to the defensive line when healthy.
“Power, speed, athleticism and experience,” Caldwell said. “He’s got it all.”
Improving the pass rush this year is a priority, and Ansah is expected to be a big part of that. The Lions had only 33 sacks last season, barely more than half of the Carolina Panthers’ league-leading total of 60.
Having a year of experience should help Ansah, as it will
Two potentially key additions are veteran defensive end
“Obviously, he’s a great player,” Tulloch said. “He’s everything we thought he’d be -- being the fifth overall pick, leading the NFL’s rookies in sacks. He’s definitely a great piece of the puzzle for our defense.”