Ansah returns to practice, but Lions down 6 starters

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions got mixed news on the injury front Wednesday. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah returned to practice for the first time in three weeks, but the team was down seven players, including six starters. 

Ansah's return would be a huge boost to Detroit's struggling pass rush. The Pro Bowler, who finished third in the NFL with 14.5 sacks last season, has been out since suffering an ankle injury in the first quarter of the team's Week 2 loss to Tennessee.

Linebacker DeAndre Levy, tight end Eric Ebron, wide receiver Anquan Boldin, guard Laken Tomlinson, running backs Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata were all sidelined.

Ngata suffered a shoulder injury in the second half last weekend against the Eagles. The NFL Network is reporting he'll be out of the lineup for multiple weeks. If he can’t go against the Rams this Sunday, the Lions will lean more heavily on Khyri Thornton and rookie A’Shawn Robinson.

Robinson recorded his first career sack against the Eagles and also made a critical tackle on a fourth-quarter run, one play before the defense forced a fumble that turned the game around.

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“He’s growing and developing,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “He’s still young, he’s still green, but he’s starting to make some plays for us. That play that he made at the end, when we needed to get a stop there down the stretch, those are the types of things we anticipate he’ll be able to do on  a regular basis. He’s taking all the necessary steps to head in that direction.”

Ngata, a five-time All-Pro, is in his second season with the Lions. In five games, he’s recorded eight tackles, 1.5 sacks and batted down a pass.

Twitter: @justin_rogers