NOTEBOOK: Lions looking for more sacks

The Lions enter Week 13 of the NFL season and Ziggy Ansah is still looking for his first sack.

He's been close on a number of occasions the last couple weeks, but as Ansah said Friday: "Close is not good enough. I have to put him down."

Ansah said the ankle injury he's been dealing with since Week 2 is likely to be an issue all season, but that it's feeling better every week, and he'd never use that as an excuse for any of his production numbers.

With five games remaining this season, Ansah still has a sack total in mind for himself – though he wouldn't share it with reporters.

"I'd be lying if I told you it didn't matter to me," Ansah said. "I know what kind of player I am and what I'm capable of doing."

Detroit could certainly use a breakout performance from Ansah and the rest of his pass-rushing mates against Drew Brees and the stout Saints offense Sunday.

Too many times this season the Lions have made it too comfortable for opposing quarterbacks. A quarterback the caliber of Brees is likely to make them pay for a lack of pass rush more than some of the others have.

The Lions have just 20 sacks this season, which ranks 26th in the NFL. They have just one sack in the month of November, though it's worth noting that they're undefeated over that stretch.

"As a defensive lineman, you want to get sacks, that's a given," said defensive end Kerry Hyder, who leads the team with seven sacks on the year.

"But we understand that teams are kind of attacking us by getting the ball out, so we just have to keep rushing and those things will start to come."

Brees and the Saints aren't one to dink and dunk their way down the field for an entire game, which the Lions have seen done to them in recent weeks by Minnesota and Jacksonville. New Orleans has the most passing plays of 20-plus yards this season with 49.

It takes time for some of those plays down the field to develop, which means the Lions could see more opportunities to rush the quarterback and apply pressure.

Detroit's defense has the third-fewest quarterback pressures (105) in the NFL this year, according to Pro Football Focus statistics. Only Indianapolis (74) and Dallas (95) have fewer. Tennessee leads the league with 179.

The Lions also have the third-fewest quarterback hits (27). Jacksonville (22) and Green Bay (24) are the only defenses with fewer.

"You'd like to be able to get in there and sack the quarterback as many times as possible, but it doesn't always happen," Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said.

"I think (Ansah) been handling that part of it very, very well. He does a lot more for us than just make sacks."

But if Ansah and Co. can generate more sacks, pressures and quarterback hits that are game-changing plays, it will go a long way to Detroit winning their fourth straight and taking a commanding lead in the NFC North. RUSHING MARKS

The two quarterbacks in Sunday's Lions-Saints matchup have received a lot of the press this week, and deservedly so -- Matthew Stafford and Brees have played terrific this season.

But is hasn't been lost on Caldwell how important the run game will be in controlling the tempo, clock and maybe the game.

"I think it's one of the things that's extremely important to us," Caldwell said. "It's one that we try to look at and make certain our numbers are up where they should be in terms of somewhere around four (yards) a carry to make this an effective group.

"To be somewhere around the 100-yard mark it's very important to each and every game, and obviously this game is extremely important because it's the next game."

The Lions haven't rushed for 100 yards in a game since Week 2 (137 yards vs. Tennessee), though they've reached at least 94 yards three times since then.

As for that 4.0 yards per carry mark, Detroit's reached that five times, most recently last week in a win over Minnesota on Thanksgiving.

The Lions enter the game ranked 30th in rushing (80.8), while New Orleans is ninth (114.6).

Defensively, Detroit's 16th against the run (102.5). New Orleans is 12th (99.1).

"We've just got to keep getting better in that area, keep improving," Caldwell said. "We haven't gotten to where we'd like to yet."


Former Saints Tyrunn Walker and Rafael Bush have been selected as captains this week, along with Theo Riddick.

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