NOTEBOOK: Ziggy Ansah rounding into form

The last time defensive end Ziggy Ansah played on Thanksgiving, he had himself a day.

He harassed, hit, sacked and all together made things unpleasant for quarterback Mark Sanchez and the Philadelphia Eagles' offense in Detroit's 45-14 blowout victory last season.

Ansah finished that game a year ago with 3.5 sacks, four tackles, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

"If you just look at the numbers it's rare," head coach Jim Caldwell said of Ansah's performance last season. "You know what I mean? It's a pretty special day. You don't have many like that, but he's a pretty special guy, too."

Ansah dealt with an ankle injury earlier this season that forced him to miss three games and all but three plays of another. It's been a slow and steady climb back to being his dominant self, but we saw signs in last week's win over Jacksonville that the fourth-year pro is getting close.

He hit quarterback Blake Bortles four times and recorded four tackles.

"I think he's coming," Caldwell said. "He's getting closer and closer, he's harassing them a little bit more, think they can sense his presence."


The last time the Lions faced the Vikings back on Nov. 6, Minnesota was only four days removed from a change at offensive coordinator.

The Wednesday before Detroit's matchup in Minnesota, Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner stepped down and Pat Shurmer was promoted on an interim basis.

Now, three weeks into the change, the Lions are expecting a more stable offensive group this time around.

"Yeah, they get better every week," Caldwell said of the Vikings' offense since the change. "I mean when you look at them, they give you more of a challenge. They're getting the ball to the guys that can make plays for them and that's all across the board.

"They've been spreading it around liberally and the guys have been making big plays for them. I think you see that obviously there must be a comfort level with them in terms of whatever adjustments that were made and you know, they're doing well."

The Vikings have still struggled to score points under Shurmer the past couple weeks, something the Lions probably hope continues Thursday.


Cordarrelle Patterson is one of those players getting more involved on offense for Minnesota.

Patterson has made a name for himself as a return specialist since entering the NFL. Of his five career kickoff-return touchdowns, four are over 100 yards, an NFL record.

But he's been a playmaker for the Vikings offense recently, too.

He went through a 20-game stretch from the beginning of the 2015 season into this season where he caught just four balls for 24 yards. But over Minnesota's last seven games, he's caught 32 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns.


Lions third-year tight end Eric Ebron has had a nice stretch of games dating back to his return from ankle and knee injuries a month back.

He's recorded at least 70 yards receiving in each of the last three games, including a seven-catch, 92-yard performance against the Vikings in Week 9.

Ebron's proving to be the matchup problem for defenses analysts pegged him as when the Lions drafted him in the first round in 2013, and in the process is gaining a lot of trust from quarterback Matthew Stafford.

"He's doing a nice job," Stafford said of Ebron. "We're finding ways to get him matched up in some favorable matchups and he's winning them, that's what you want out of a player.

"He's done a nice job after the catch like you said. His role is expanding, and he's continuing to succeed in that role so that's a positive for our team. The more guys that we can have that threaten the defense, the better."


Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee) and CB Marcus Sherels (rib/ankle) are both listed as out for the Vikings for Thursday after not practicing this week.

Cornerback Terence Newman (neck), Minnesota's starting left cornerback, is listed as doubtful. Former Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes is listed as Newman's backup on the Vikings' unofficial depth chart.

Safety Harrison Smith (ankle), receiver Stefon Diggs (knee), linebacker Eric Kendricks (hip) and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (ankle) were all designated as questionable on Wednesday's injury report.


Riley Reiff (offense), Tavon Wilson (special teams) and Tahir Whitehead (defense) will be the captains on Thursday.

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