ALLEN PARK — For weeks, the questions ate at Matt Patricia and they brought Ezekiel Ansah to the point of admitting how sad he was to be going through injuries yet again. Some started to wonder if Ansah was ever going to play for the Lions again, or if he’d just become the $17.1 million gamble that never saw a payoff.
Then the Lions star pass rusher came back to the games, and then he increased his snaps for three weeks, and then he was slamming Chase Daniel to the turf in a Thanksgiving contest at Ford Field like the days of old.
And now, he isn’t on the injury report at all.
The Lions wrapped up another week of practice Friday, of three days in preparation to play the Rams following a few extra rest days following Thanksgiving. They released their weekly injury and game status report Friday, and the name that had started to get its own autocorrect fill-in was suddenly nowhere to be found:
That’s certainly good news for the Lions, who host a loaded Rams offense with too many weapons for their struggling secondary to handle without someone in the front seven wreaking havoc on Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. Ansah will rush against two-time All-Pro Andrew Whitworth, who has fit like a glove in his first season protecting Goff’s blindside.
It’s an even better sign for Ansah. He put off shoulder surgery this season, pushing through the pain in consistent practice time to try to get ready for games, only to find out that his body wouldn’t let him go.
It’s far too early to celebrate, given his track record, with 11 missed games since the start of the 2016 season. He’s injured so many body parts that re-injury is a constant risk in this brutal game.
But he’s in a place he hasn’t been in the course of a season in more than a calendar year, and that’s progress in a Lions season that hasn’t shown enough of it.