Seattle Seahawks

Ziggy Ansah’s Seahawks debut will have to wait. Why he’s inactive for opener

Why 30-year-old Ziggy Ansah, veteran of many NFL openers, is so pumped about playing this Seahawks one

Why 30-year-old pass rusher Ziggy Ansah, veteran of many NFL openers, is so pumped about playing this Seahawks one on Sunday against Cincinnati at CenturyLink Field.
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Why 30-year-old pass rusher Ziggy Ansah, veteran of many NFL openers, is so pumped about playing this Seahawks one on Sunday against Cincinnati at CenturyLink Field.

Ziggy’s Ansah’s Seahawks debut will have to wait.

The team made its biggest offseason acquisition and 2015 Pro Bowl pass rusher inactive for Sunday’s opener against the Cincinnati Bengals at CenturyLink Field.

Ansah, 30, had been questionable to play, and coach Pete Carroll said Friday there was still a question on him being fit following his first full of practices in nine months. A shoulder injury then surgery ended his 2018 season and time with the Detroit Lions. He had a strained groin last month during conditioning work to get on the field for the first time with Seattle.

Ansah worked out on the field about three hours before the game. But apparently he didn’t respond well enough to the practices this week.

“We thought it was gonna be close,” Seahawks general manager John Schneider told KIRO-AM, the team’s flagship station, on Sunday’s pregame radio show.

“It’s very much precautionary.”

Ansah had talked Thursday how excited he was to be back practicing and make his Seahawks debut.

He hasn’t played in a game—preseason, regular season, any season—since Dec. 9. He went on injured reserve two days later.

Coach Pete Carroll updates statuses of Jadeveon Clowney, DK Metcalf, Ziggy Ansah for Seahawks' opener Sunday against Cincinnati.

His absence meant Jadeveon Clowney had the star pass-rush stage to himself Sunday, eight days after the Seahawks traded for him from Houston.

It also meant Ansah missed out on a roster bonus of $93,750.

His incentive-filled contract for one year with Seattle has a base salary of $2.5 million includes up to $1.5 million each in bonuses for being active on the 53- and 46-man rosters for game weeks. He collected $93,750 for being on the 53-man roster this weekend. But his being inactive keeps him from the 46-man game-roster bonus.

The Seahawks now hope Clowney and Ansah debut together next week at Pittsburgh.

Two rookie draft choices at wide receiver were inactive and did not make their NFL debuts: fourth-round pick Gary Jennings and seventh-round choice John Ursua.

A third wide receiver was out, David Moore. He’s recovering from a non-displaced fracture in his upper arm.

Parry Nickerson, who arrived last weekend in a trade with the New York Jets, was inactive. His head was still swimming in the Seahawks’ playbook as he tries to compete for the nickel defensive-back job. Akeem King and rookie fourth-round pick Ugo Amadi were available as nickel backs against the Bengals.

Mike Iupati was active. The starting left guard practiced on Friday for the first time since late July.

Ansah was the Seahawks’ big offseason acquisition, the first of what with the Clowney deal became Seattle two-step to replace traded-away Frank Clark as the defense’s lead edge rusher. Ansah will eventually be the “Leo” defensive end in the Seahawks’ 4-3 defense.

“What do you know about the ‘Leo’ spot?” Ansah replied, guardedly and with a grin, when asked about it Thursday.

The secret’s out. The Leo in coach Carroll’s defense is the weakside edge rusher, customarily the primary pass rusher on the four-man defensive line. The Seahawks signed Ansah to replace Clark, who replaced retired Pro Bowl veteran Cliff Avril as Seattle’s Leo.

Clowney appears destined this season for the opposite, strongside edge with versatility to be an inside pass rusher faster than interior offensive linemen on passing downs, as Michael Bennett was in his Super Bowl and Pro Bowl years with Seattle.

“It’s been a long journey,” Ansah said Thursday. “I haven’t played football in a while, a long time, since last year. It’s something I’m really looking forward to.

“I just can’t wait to hit somebody.”

But he had to keep waiting through Sunday.

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.
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