By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – The Detroit Lions plan to put superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson on the field Friday for the first time this preseason, and it looks as though the team may be able to do the same with second-year defensive end Ziggy Ansah.
Following offseason shoulder surgery, Ansah started training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, but the Lions reactivated him last Tuesday and said his progress has been solid.
“He’s responded well and we’ve gotten him in more scrimmages and plays in practice,” Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said. “We increase them on a daily basis, so hopefully, we’ll be able to check with the doctors after today’s practice and see where he is, and hopefully he’ll be able to get some snaps.”
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said Ansah’s talent should allow him to build up his impressive rookie season, in which he played in 14 games and totaled eight sacks and two forced fumbles.
“When you look at him, he’s extremely talented,” Austin said. “He’s explosive, big, fast. I think for him it’s just going to be a matter of technique, continuing to work on his technique because he’s still pretty young as a football player, and knowing how to apply that to offensive tackles and the guy he’s going to attack and being able to use that in a game. He’s got a chance to be an outstanding rusher.”
The third preseason game is the one that most mirrors a regular season game, so it would certainly be helpful to see Ansah in the most competitively realistic environment possible before the regular season begins. Getting to evaluate him on that stage, however, matters less to the Lions than making sure he is completely healthy and prepared going forward.
“We’d love to see him in game situations, but I think the most important thing is to get him to the regular season,” Austin said. “We have him in some more practice situations this week, so we were able to ramp him up a little bit and we’ll just keep evaluating to see when it’s best to get him out there and get him going.”