Bob Wojnowski, John Niyo and Justin Rogers preview the Lions-Steelers game on this week's Lions Lowdown. Detroit News
Allen Park – For a brief stretch, from late 2014 to halfway through the 2015 season, Jacquies Smith was one of the top sack artists in the NFL. Over a 16-game stretch with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he dropped opposing passers behind the line 11.5 times.
But injuries have derailed the young defensive end’s early-career momentum. He battled ankle and hamstring injuries down the stretch in 2015 that knocked him out of four games. An ACL tear suffered in the 2016 season-opener ended his year. And an offseason setback requiring another procedure, followed by a bout with the flu, kept him on the sideline until Week 3.
After one game this season, the Bucs opted to move on.
Now the 6-foot-3, 260-pound Smith is in Detroit, looking to recapture that pass-rushing success.
“They want me to get after the passer,” Smith said. “That’s my track record, that’s what I’ve been known to do in this league. Proven. I just have to get back out there to showing I’m me again, honestly. Once I get the opportunity, I’ll do it.”
The Lions certainly need someone who can do it.
The current defensive front hasn’t been able to disrupt the pocket consistently. Ziggy Ansah, the former Pro Bowler, has 4.0 sacks, but only 13 pressures. That’s the same amount as Cornelius Washington. And undrafted rookie Jeremiah Valoaga is contributing about as much as you’d expected an undrafted rookie to contribute.
Only Anthony Zettel has been able to steadily get into the backfield, so there’s an opportunity for Smith to seize the brass ring.
“It’s up me to make them feel good in practice, going out there, know what I’m doing, knowing my assignments, playing sound football,” Smith said. “If I show it in practice, I’m pretty sure I’ll get an opportunity. And whenever that happens, on Sunday, whatever Sunday it’s going to be, I’ve got to make the most of it.”