ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Ezekiel Ansah has not practiced for the Detroit Lions all preseason. General manager Bob Quinn, though, said he expects the Pro Bowl defensive end will be ready to go when the season starts on Sept. 10 against Arizona.
"I expect that Ziggy will be ready for Week 1," Quinn said in his first news conference since the NFL draft.
Ansah missed parts of spring workouts sitting out due to injury after a 2016 season when he missed time due to an ankle and shoulder injuries. He had two sacks in 13 games last season after having a Pro Bowl performance in 2015 with 47 tackles and 14.5 sacks.
He has been a critical piece of Detroit's defensive line, a unit ravaged by injuries and suspensions this offseason. Kerry Hyder, Jordan Hill and hybrid defensive end/linebacker Brandon Copeland are all out for the season. End Armonty Bryant and tackle Khyri Thornton are suspended for four and six games, respectively, for violations of the league's substance policies. For a team trying to be better than the No. 30 ranking it had in sacks last year, having Ansah back on the field is paramount.
"There are only a few guys that have the kind of explosion, power, size that he has," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. "We don't have a lot of guys on our team like that, genetically built the way he's constructed. So that makes it a little bit different in itself.
"He can create some problems. He forces teams maybe to look at it a little bit different way in terms of how they pass-protect when he's on the field. So those are the kind of things that he does and every team is going to look at him differently."
Having Ansah back on the field -- if teams choose to game plan for him -- will leave one-on-one matchups for other linemen to get to the passer.
Caldwell is realistic about the impact of Ansah's absence. He said "it's rare" that a player comes back and is immediately where he'll be a few weeks later once he's re-established his rhythm within the game. Ansah, on PUP, has only been spotted jogging and has not practiced all preseason.
The 28-year-old was the No. 5 pick in the 2013 draft out of BYU, a raw prospect with a lot of room for growth. The Lions have seen that, but he's played in 16 games in only two of his four seasons and has often played through injuries in other years.
He's in the final year of his contract and Matthew Stafford's record-breaking deal opens up the possibility for the Lions to use the franchise tag on Ansah this offseason.