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I didn’t expect for Ezekiel Ansah’s future in Detroit to be under question

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Once viewed as the lynchpin and cornerstone of this defensive line post-Suh, Ansah’s future in Detroit is anything but certain at this point.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions’ season thus far hasn’t been all that surprising, to be honest. Many of us considered this team to settle in comfortably amongst the rest of the pack in 2017. The pass offense is humming along as expected, while we always knew—whether we wanted to admit it or not—that the running game would be a work in progress. The defense has thankfully improved from 2016’s disaster, but the weaknesses are where we expected them to be: along the defensive line.

But the one thing that blindsided me—and almost every Lions fan—was the lack of improvement for Ezekiel Ansah. Ansah is just two years removed from his Pro Bowl year in which he finished with a career-high 14.5 sacks. His 2016 season was a big disappointment, but we all excused it as a season lost to a nagging ankle injury that limited his explosiveness.

So expectations were through the roof for Ansah’s 2017 season. A whopping 97 percent of Lions fans expected Ansah to improve this year.

But it hasn’t turned out that way. Granted, 2017 has brought another swarm of injuries Ansah’s way, but his 5.0 sacks cannot be viewed as anything but a huge disappointment. He’s been outplayed by 2016 sixth-round draft pick Anthony Zettel, and his inconsistencies forced the Lions to take a flier on 37-year-old Dwight Freeney last week.

In the offseason, it seemed like a no brainer the Lions would re-sign Ansah either in 2017 or 2018. Back in June, only nine percent of fans didn’t think Ansah was deserving of another contract in Detroit. Now it seems to be the prevailing opinion. Considering how lacking the Lions’ depth is at the position, that is what’s truly shocking. Imagine going back to your 2015-self and telling them that Ezekiel Ansah may not sign a second contract with the Lions. You’d probably assume Detroit was dealing with another Ndamukong Suh-like contract fiasco.

But Ansah still has five games to turn it all around. The Lions are looking to make a playoff run and Ansah needs to be a big part of that push. If he’s not, it may be the Lions moving on from the former Pro Bowler in 2018.