Lions' Webster bulks up to 270 in quest to take 'next step'

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Larry Webster

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."