The 2016 season was admittedly a tough one for Detroit Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah.
After recording 14.5 sacks and earning a trip to the Pro Bowl during a breakout 2015 campaign, Ansah suffered a high ankle sprain in a Week 2 loss to Tennessee and battled that injury, along with some others, the whole rest of the season. Ansah finished with just two sacks in 13 games, a career low.
So, no one was happier than Ansah to watch the calendar flip to 2017.
"It wasn't easy dealing with all that I was dealing with," Ansah said Tuesday of his 2016 season. "But I know that there's always a time in life when you go through obstacles and it teaches a person how to be a man. How are you going to deal with it? I'm glad 2016 is over. I'm just looking forward to 2017."
Ansah and the Lions are headlong into their preparations for the 2017 season, a season in which Ansah expects to get back to his quarterback sacking ways. The Lions ranked 30th in the NFL with only 26 sacks as a team last year.
"I take it personally," Ansah said of Detroit's low sack total a season ago. "I feel like I didn't do my job. That is what I'm paid to do. So, like I said, I'm really focused this year and excited for what we have coming up and it's definitely going to be better than last year."
The Lions added veteran edge rusher Cornelius Washington to the defensive end group via free agency this offseason, and they drafted a late-round prospect in Pat O'Connor. Lions general manager Bob Quinn said after the draft that he's confident in the current mix of players at defensive end, including Kerry Hyder and Armonty Bryant, headlined, of course, by a healthy Ansah.
"With him out there, it changes the whole defense," Hyder said Tuesday of Ansah.
Ansah didn't want to divulge a sack number he's shooting for in 2017, other than to say he comes into every season expecting double-digit sacks. If he accomplishes that, the Lions' defense should be in much better shape.
"I'm really focused this year, not really thinking about what happened last year," Ansah said. "Every year when you come in you want to try and do better than what you did last year. I have a lot of catching up to do. It's going to be a great year coming up."