Preseason NFL football may be next to pointless for the already named starters, but for a rookie it is a chance to prove you belong on the field.
In Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah's NFL debut for the Detroit Lions, he just might have proved that.
Early in the NFL preseason game between the Lions and the New York Jets, Ansah picked off a Mark Sanchez pass and returned it for a 14-yard touchdown.
“When I caught it I was like, ‘Oh wait, the ball is in my hands, I got to go that way,’ and I just did,” Ansah said about scoring his first career touchdown.
“I don’t think there are words to describe the feeling. I’m just grateful.”
The Detroit News said Ansah's pick-6 set the tone for the Lions, and if Detroit wants to continue creating a ruckus on defense, it best play Ansah.
"He made plays like that in college," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "He’s very good on draws and screens, reverses. Things that inexperienced players would generally struggle with. But he’s a good, natural athlete and he just has a background."
Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who's been a mentor to Ansah since he was selected No. 5 overall by Detroit in this year's NFL draft, said this was a glimpse into what the future could hold.
"It’s not going to stop there. He has a lot of great natural talent," Suh said of Ansah. "He’s going to continue to grow and continue to learn."
Ansah also had two tackles, including one for loss, while playing four series in the game while routinely facing off against Jets tackle D'Brickshaw Ferguson, a Pro Bowler.
“Pro Bowler, I didn’t know until my coach told me halfway through the game," Ansah said of his one-on-one situations with Ferguson. "He’s like, ‘I didn’t want to tell you, so you get all, thinking too much,’ but I just went out there. It wasn’t the perfect game, but we’re going to watch film and make some corrections."
Whitney O'Bannon is a new media sports writer for the Deseret News. Follow on Twitter at @whitney_oban.