Lions' Webster bulks up to 270 in quest to take 'next step'
The Lions have made it obvious in recent years they like defensive ends with certain physical traits.
Jason Jones, a free agent acquisition in 2013, is 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds. Ezekiel Ansah, a first-round pick in 2013, is 6-foot-6 and 278 pounds, and Devin Taylor is 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds.
Larry Webster, a fourth-round pick in 2014, arrived with height as an attribute at 6-foot-7, but he looked slender compared to his fellow defensive ends after weighing 252 pounds at the combine.
After a year of lifting weights, Webster is up to 270 pounds, and he thinks the extra weight will help him become a contributor in his second NFL season.
"We're depending on him big time this year," linebacker Stephen Tulloch said. "He's been getting a lot of reps in practice. We're expecting him to take that next step this year. (He has) a lot of ability."
Having played just two years of football at Division II Bloomsburg (Pa.) after his basketball eligibility expired, Webster fit the bill of a project. But, he did have 26 sacks those two seasons, and with his frame and being the son of a former NFL defensive lineman, Larry Webster Jr., made him an intriguing prospect.
Webster didn't play a single snap as a rookie, effectively redshirting with Ansah, Jones, George Johnson, Darryl Tapp and Taylor rotating at defensive end. With Johnson gone, Webster will have a chance to earn some playing time, and Tapp — who stands out at 6-foot-1 — thinks the added muscle will help Webster.
"He's always been a fast guy," Tapp said. "He covers a lot of ground, but he looks the part now so now he's just got to continue to build."
A nine-year veteran, Tapp thinks Webster will need some in-game experience in order to take the next step in his development. However, sitting out gave Webster a chance to grow comfortable with the scheme and hit the weights.
This offseason, Webster said he continued his training back home in Maryland.
"It obviously matters going against 300-pound plus offensive linemen, so this should really help things go easier," he said. "I definitely felt like that was a matter that held me back a little bit, but now I'm at a good weight."