Lions’ Ansah continues rapid progression

ALLEN PARK — Detroit Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah finally spoke with reporters Thursday and said that one of the keys that helped him produce two and 1/2 sacks last weekend was playing faster by thinking less.

“Just playing as hard as I can, 100 miles an hour,” the second-year pro said. “I’m not scared of making no mistakes Last year, I was a little bit hesitant, trying to be all cautious; you don’t want to make no mistakes because you don’t want to have coaches yell at you. But this year, I just let it loose.”

Ansah, who said he felt “great” despite not practicing Wednesday with a toe injury, played like a man possessed against the Minnesota Vikings. He had a career-high four tackles for loss, forced a fumble and often abused left tackle Matt Kalil, slapping his hands down like a mere annoyance on one of his sacks.

“At this point, I wasn’t thinking,” said Ansah, who was named NFC defensive player of the week. “I was just trying to do whatever I can to get to the quarterback. That’s what I did.”

Coach Jim Caldwell said Ansah has gone from a raw, talented player to a more refined attacker.

“He probably was a bit more of a bull rusher when we saw him (last year with Baltimore), more of a guy who would try to overpower you,” Caldwell said. “I think his repertoire has changed; he’s added a few things to it because now he can beat you a number of different ways.”

Caldwell said Ansah’s experience has helped him become more instinctive and quicker.

“He doesn’t do much thinking right now,” Caldwell said. “He can react — and quickly.”

This weekend’s matchup against the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees, who has been sacked only four times, could provide the best challenge for Ansah and the Lions’ defensive line.

“He’s an elite quarterback. We all know that,” Ansah said. “It’s not about him. It’s about what we’re going to do. And that’s what’s our focus. We just do what we do every Sunday and we’re definitely going to get it done.”


Posted by Tribune News Services

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