By Ashley Dunkak
@AshleyDunkak

ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Scroll back up and look at that picture again. The look on the face of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler says it all.

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Following up on an impressive rookie season, defensive end Ziggy Ansah put together one of his best games of the season Thursday.

For Ansah’s Thanksgiving Day effort against the Chicago Bears, Pro Football Focus gave him a rating of 7.4, his highest of the season by a decent margin. He recorded a sack, a quarterback hit and 10 quarterback hurries, per PFF. To put Ansah’s rating in perspective, Bears defensive end Jared Allen was PFF’s second-highest rated player at the position this week, and his grade was a 4.8.

The only players PFF rates more highly overall this season are Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams, the first overall pick in 2006, and Cameron Wake, a six-year veteran for the Miami Dolphins.

“Ziggy, his game has continued to elevate each week, week in and week out,” Lions safety James Ihedigbo said Monday. “He truly plays like a man amongst boys out there and dominates up there in the front. You could see it on Thursday. He was getting after the quarterback, a few big hits, had a sack and constant pressure running to the ball.”

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Ihedigbo sounded almost awed as he described Ansah’s combination of size and athleticism.

“There’s plays where o-linemen try to cut him and he literally jumped over them completely and tackled the quarterback,” Ihedigbo said.

Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said Ansah has not even come close to his ceiling as a player.

“I don’t think he’s scratched the surface just how good he’s going to be,” Caldwell said. “He is some kind of player, and he’s developing by leaps and bounds. Every week he’ll do something that will sort of vault him into a different level when you’re evaluating. His strength, his speed at which he runs, the size of man that he is, his awareness, his hustle, and he’s made plays all over the field. He’s got character, and he’s got talent. You blend those two things together and you got a pretty strong package, and he’s been good.”

The coach often notes that the attention paid to star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh opens up opportunities for others to make plays, and he said Ansah has taken advantage as much or more than anyone else. Caldwell also remarked that the game has slowed down for Ansah, now in his second season.

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“He’s been through a few seasons now where you see different guys who pass set differently,” Caldwell said. “You’ll see guys that have different sort of way in which they approach a quick set on the line of scrimmage,or back off of it. He’s seen the chips from different angles … What happens to these guys that have been around a while, all you have to do is say,’Okay, they’re using this particular technique,’ and boom, ‘Okay, I understand that.’ Rather than having to go through and experience it, he’s getting to the point now where he’s seen quite a bit, and the game – it’s a well-worn phrase – but it starts to slow down for a little bit because he can anticipate what’s going to happen.”