Ezekiel Ansah returns to Lions practice

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Ezekiel Ansah had been waiting months for this, and even though the second-year defensive end didn't fully participate in practice Tuesday, he had pads and a helmet on and even went through individual drills.

Considering he had only been activated from the physically unable to perform list hours earlier, it's a step for Ansah, who has steadfastly declined to speak to the media after he had shoulder surgery, missed spring workouts and the first two weeks of camp.

"Just as long as you've been waiting to talk to me, I've always been waiting just as much to get back on the field," Ansah said.

He won't fully return just yet, as Lions coach Jim Caldwell ruled Ansah out of Friday's preseason game against Oakland. But he is able to play with his teammates again and line up next to them, giving Detroit a fully healthy defense for the first time this training camp.

Other than Monday, when he was not spotted at Lions practice, he has been at every Detroit practice, listening and watching what Devin Taylor and George Johnson have been doing in his place, trying to learn mentally what he couldn't do physically.

His return to the actual field, though, began in a defensive meeting room, where he said he was asked to stand up and introduce himself again like a rookie because he had been out for so long. During his actual rookie season he led all first-year players with eight sacks.

Caldwell said Tuesday that Ansah's role won't shift too much from last season, so what he has to learn shouldn't be as big an adjustment as some other players who have had to sit out. Still, there is the anticipation that it will take time for him to pick things up.

For Detroit to be successful this fall, the Lions need Ansah to be at least as productive as he was last season, when he took advantage of open lanes created by the attention given to tackle Ndamukong Suh. Ansah, though, wouldn't share any goals that he may have coming off his first season.

"Nothing special," Ansah said. "Just work hard and just get better every day."