Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah is getting better, but still won't play in Friday's exhibition game. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Allen Park — Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah continues to impress in practice, though he won’t play in Friday’s exhibition against the Raiders.
Ansah is off the physically unable to perform list and is back in pads but isn’t participating fully in team drills as he recovers from a shoulder injury. As he’s worked out individually, Ansah has impressed teammates with the way he’s stayed in shape.
“He looks like he’s far ahead and he never missed anything,” defensive tackle C.J. Mosely said. “It was pretty fun watching him get out there and go. He looks faster than a lot of people right now.”
For Ansah, there’s no pressure from coach Jim Caldwell to come back too quickly, with the depth and versatility on the line. The bigger issue was being a spectator and not being able to do things himself.
“Just being on the sideline watching and not being able to be out there with my brothers was pretty tough,” Ansah said. “But I was able to overcome it and it’s good to be back.”
Whenever Ansah returns, Caldwell is confident that he’ll still be able to make an impact.
“I think because of the fact he missed the spring and then coming back in the fall, it’ll be sort of a learning experience for him going along,” Caldwell said. “(He’s) learning at the wrong time, when we’re trying to do some things that are very, very difficult. So, everybody’s got to make certain that they’re operating without thinking and so I think it’s important that he gets an opportunity. I think he will.”
Football players are known to have different kinds of bonding experiences to get to know their teammates. The one between veteran center Dominic Raiola and second-year kicker Giorgio Tavecchio is a bit odd, though.
Tavecchio doesn’t call himself a coffee aficionado, but when a friend sent him some coffee to help lift him during training camp, his learning curve was thrust upward.
“He sent me two bags of espresso to Detroit to make it feel more like home,” Tavecchio explained. “He can name it whatever he wants and he named one the Italian Kicker’s Blend and the other one the Place Kicker Blend. It’s a funny inside joke we had — as if it’s some special bean from the northwestern mountains of Italy and they kicked it around before they roasted it.”
That gave Tavecchio a connection to Raiola, who is the team coffee connoisseur. It’s made them the team’s new odd couple.
“I bought this coffee machine a few years ago and word got out,” Raiola said. “The Europeans love their coffee, and he brings his own Joe in and any time I see him in the area and I’m ready for a coffee, I ask him for a cup.”
For Tavecchio, it’s just another chance to make inroads with a veteran.
“Dom has a little machine called a Saeco and I use it twice a day. I’m very glad I get to use his machine to make some good espresso,” Tavecchio said. “I try not to look him in the eyes because I’d probably melt, but I ask him if he wants coffee and he said yes.”