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Lions’ Ansah getting ‘attention’ but production dip is stunning

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Ezekiel Ansah

Allen Park -- Ziggy Ansah's goal coming into this season was simply to have more sacks than last season.

Well, he'll need a second half for the ages to accomplish that.

The Lions star defensive end still is looking for his first sack of 2016, a season that's seen him miss three games to injury -- and be somewhat inconsequential in the five games he has played.

"He gets some attention now, obviously, there's no question about it," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said of Ansah, who sees his fair share of double-teams.

"And thus I think you see some other guys that are having an opportunity with some one-on-ones that are taking advantage of them.

"He doesn't get as many just clean, one-on-ones without protection turning to him. Some of those things, maybe he'd gotten previously. But I still think there's still some opportunities for him, which he'll take advantage of."

Ansah had 14.5 sacks last season, third in the league, behind Houston's J.J. Watt and Oakland's Khalil Mack.

A first-round pick out of BYU in 2013, Ansah entered this season with 30 sacks in 46 career games.

Certainly, few saw a goose egg coming this season.

The Lions did have three sacks of Houston's Brock Osweiler in Sunday's 20-13 loss.

"Three sacks and numerous knockdowns is pretty good pressure, I think," Caldwell said. "Thinking that we get six or seven sacks in a game, in this league that's not common. But I do think we're putting some pressure on him.

"Would we like more? You certainly would, but the guys they have up there protecting can do a job as well.

"I think our guys got after him pretty good."

Lions' Jim Caldwell insists: Our decisions were correct

Asked if the defense is scheming to get Ansah freed up more and involved in more plays, Caldwell said, "We've always done that."

Ansah, 27, has just six tackles -- four solo -- in his five games this season. Playing 72 percent of Sunday's snaps, he had a single tackle.

His lack of production, combined with injuries to Haloti Ngata, DeAndre Levy and Darius Slay, have been a big issue for a Lions defense that experts believe is lacking trust from Caldwell.

The onside kick with nearly three minutes left in Sunday's game, and four clock stoppages to work with, is seen as evidence of that, even if Caldwell says no.

"It's just like anybody else, they have a stretch where they don't play as well as you'd like, but it doesn't mean I lack trust," Caldwell said. "I mean, there's guys on that unit that'll die for you and do everything it takes."

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter @tonypaul1984