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Lions coach Matt Patricia discusses why the Dallas Cowboys defense has been so effective to start the season. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News

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Allen Park — After missing the past two games with a shoulder injury, Detroit Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah wasn't on the field for the portion of practice open to the media Wednesday afternoon. 

Given that Ansah was a limited participant the past two weeks while battling back from the shoulder injury he suffered in the first half of the season-opener, his absence on Wednesday would suggest he's had a setback with his recovery. 

Lions coach Matt Patricia was asked before practice what hurdles Ansah had to overcome to return to action. 

"He’s working extremely hard and he’s doing everything we’re asking him to do, and I have the utmost respect for his work ethic and what he’s trying to do to help us in all those situations," Patricia said.

Ansah, a former Pro Bowler, led the Lions with 12 sacks last season. He recorded a sack against the Jets in the opener before he was hurt. 

With Ansah out against the Patriots last Sunday, Romeo Okwara picked up the slack, starting the game and playing 40 of the team's 48 defensive snaps. 

In addition to Ansah, the Lions also were without tight end Michael Roberts on Wednesday. He suffered a knee injury during practice late last week and was held out against the Patriots. 

With Roberts ailing, the Lions added a tight end to the practice squad. The team signed Jerome Cunningham and released running back Donnel Pumphrey. 

The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Cunningham was undrafted out of Southern Connecticut State in 2013. He's spent the past two years with the Tennessee Titans. 

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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