Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah had an unforgettable pro debut during his first NFL preseason game last season.
On the fourth play from scrimmage, Ansah intercepted New York Jets Mark Sanchez and returned the pick 14 yards for a touchdown.
Even while dealing with injuries, Ansah finished his rookie campaign with eight sacks and 32 tackles.
Could another former Cougar, linebacker Kyle Van Noy, make an indelible impression in his first NFL action this weekend?
Van Noy, a second-round pick by the Lions, will have the chance when Detroit faces the Cleveland Browns, and the much-hyped rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel, on Saturday. The game, set for a 5:30 p.m. MDT start, will be broadcast nationally on NFL Network.
Earlier this week, the Browns announced Brian Hoyer will start against the Lions over Manziel. Van Noy is listed as the backup at outside linebacker on Detroit's most recent depth chart. Chances are, Van Noy and Manziel will be on the field at the same time for a portion of Saturday's game.
Van Noy is expected to be a versatile piece in the Lions' defense this season.
“He shows us the pass rushing when he’s got an opportunity to do it. He’s very smart, understands in terms of the run fits and getting in the pass coverage," Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin told reporters on Tuesday. "Again, it’s just going to be live game reps and seeing how far we can bring him.”
Starters don't play much in Week 1 of the preseason, so it will give many of the 68 players with Utah ties on NFL active rosters, including 21 rookies, the chance to make their case to earn a spot on the 53-man rosters.
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