Wednesday, July 23, 2014
What Tate, Ansah injuries mean for Lions
By Michael Rothstein
He was the team's most high-profile free agent signing and felt after he hurt his shoulder in the spring he would be ready to go by training camp. Golden Tate, though, won't be ready to go.
This isn't quite a cause for concern yet, as there has not been an indication the injury is serious by any stretch. Tate played in a charity softball game in June, after the injury occurred and has not given any indication it will keep him out long term.
Still, the Detroit Lions can't be happy to see their No. 2 receiver and a player they gave a five-year contract to on the shelf to start training camp, especially since he and the rest of the team are still learning a complex offense helmed by new coordinator Joe Lombardi.
Tate indicated when he injured the shoulder he had a good amount of the playbook and terminology picked up and was taking mental reps to try and replicate his physical ones. And he has the intelligence to understand the offense even quicker.
The bigger concern if he is out for any length of time during the preseason is his chemistry with quarterback Matthew Stafford. Timing and rapport takes repetitions both Tate and TJ Jones -- also on the active physically unable to perform list -- will be missing with each practice they have to sit out.
For Jones, starting camp on PUP isn't a surprise after he indicated earlier this week his shoulder still wasn't 100 percent. Of the three players on PUP to start the season, he may be the one on there the longest considering he had surgery not too long ago and will be playing catch-up from the jump with other receivers.
Then there's Ezekiel Ansah, who missed all of spring workouts. He's a player the Lions will likely be cautious with. Ansah battled injuries throughout last season and this particular shoulder ailment was something the team recognized before it drafted him.
In addition to the shoulder, Ansah had a concussion and an ankle injury during his first season. Considering the team let Willie Young go in free agency, it needed a healthy Ansah to complement the interior play of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley once the season begins.
The secondary benefit for other players is the chance to impress. The biggest beneficiaries of these players starting training camp on the PUP list will be Kris Durham, Kevin Ogletree and Jeremy Ross -- who will likely be competing for a reserve outside receiver role, although Ross can also play in the slot.
On the defensive side, rookie Larry Webster could see extended repetitions in Ansah's absence along with hybrid defensive end/linebacker Darryl Tapp and even Devin Taylor, who will be competing for a starting spot at the closed defensive end position with Jason Jones.
As long as Tate and Ansah are ready to go by the middle of camp to get the reps needed to ramp up for the start of the season, this could end up being a benefit for Detroit to give other players competing for roster spots even more of an opportunity to prove themselves.