Dec 31, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (94) celebrates after a play during the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field.

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Report: Ansah To Sign Franchise Tag, Participate In Patricia's Offseason Program

For Ansah, entering the 2018 season healthy will certainly be a priority.

Will Burchfield
April 16, 2018 - 11:16 am
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Lions head coach Matt Patricia is eager to work with Ziggy Ansah, and he'll get his first opportunity this week. 

Ansah is prepared to sign his $17.143 million franchise tag and report for the start of Patricia's offseason conditioning program on Tuesday, according to the NFL Network. The defensive end, who turns 29 in May, is looking to build off a strong close to the 2017 season. 

Patricia went out of his way to tout the re-signing of Ansah at an event last week for Lions' season ticket holders. 

"When you approach free agency, I know it doesn’t get as much press as it should, but one of the most important things is making sure that you sign back the players that you deem can help you in the future, your own players that are on your team. Certainly, let’s not forget about Ziggy as far as that. That’s a pretty big guy to have returning," Patricia said. "If he was out there on the free-agent market, some other team right now, he'd be their front headline. But he’s not, he’s here."

Ansah finished with 12 sacks last season, tied for eighth best in the NFL, although nine of them came in three games -- including six in the final two. He wasn't much of a factor -- on the stat sheet, at least -- in the other 11 games he played. 

But general manager Bob Quinn said the decision to retain Ansah at a steep price was a relatively easy one. 

"We were going through the process (of free agency), Matt got on board and Ziggy was the number one conversation: 'What are we going to do with Ziggy?' I had my thoughts," Quinn said, "and it didn’t take long for me to show Matt why we should do what we did.

"To have an outside edge rusher than can be as dominant as Ziggy is something that was really appealing to Matt, because Matt has had a lot of great players in New England and I think Ziggy would rank right up there with some of the best edge players that he has ever coached. We’re really excited to get Ziggy into this new scheme." 

With Patricia now at the helm, the Lions' defense won't be defined by a 4-3 or a 3-4 base. It's all about being multiple. If Ansah can stay healthy -- a pretty big "if" in recent years -- his athleticism will play well in Patricia's scheme. 

Quinn praised Ansah's productiveness in 2017 earlier this offseason. 

“He played well down the stretch. The thing about Ziggy that I think really needs to be put out there, when you really watch the tape the offensive line slides to him all the time. You go back and watch this guy, there’s two guys trying to block him, I’d say, more than half the plays," Quinn said. "We talk about production. Alright, there’s production on paper, there’s stats lines, there’s sacks, there’s hurries, all that stuff. That’s great, right?

“But when I watch tape and the coaches watch tape, is he doing his job? Is he occupying two blockers and Anthony Zettel’s making a play or Kerry Hyder or A’Shawn (Robinson) or whoever? I think that’s part of the stuff that when you really dive into and watch it, I thought he had a productive year.”

Ansah fought through injuries in 2017 for the second straight season. He started training camp on the physically unable to perform list with a knee issue and later missed two games due to a back issue. He also missed three games in 2016 with an ankle injury. 

For Ansah, entering the 2018 season healthy will certainly be a priority. The training regimen he'll start on Tuesday is a step toward that goal. 

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