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Larry Webster's time to impress running out

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — The Lions still have high hopes for 2014 fourth-round pick Larry Webster, but after an overall unimpressive training camp, his coaches didn’t mince words when discussing his development Tuesday.

Defensive end Larry Webster could be on the bubble as the Lions pare the roster.

Neither did Webster.

“I’m not really happy with my play right now,” he said.

When the Lions drafted Webster last year, they knew he was a project. He’d played just two years of football at Division II Bloomsburg (Pa.) after a standout basketball career, but the Lions thought he had the physical traits to develop into a productive defensive end.

Thus far, that hasn’t been the case as Webster struggled in training camp, particularly in one-on-one pass rush drills, and the first two exhibition games, tallying just one tackle in 67 combined snaps.

“He’s still a developmental player,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “He still has a ways to go, but he’s getting there.

“There’s a lot of different things that he has to adjust to, and we just have to be a little bit patient with him. I think physically and athletically, he can do things that we’d like our ends to do, and it’s just a matter, I think, of him getting reps, getting acclimated to NFL football.”

Asked if Webster could contribute in 2015, Austin said he’s “not sure yet."

Coach Jim Caldwell regularly says he has patience but not a lot of time, and that certainly applies to Webster.

“We do think he’s still moving forward, but it’s one of those things where we’ve got to start seeing a little bit more,” Caldwell said. “He’s got huge upside. It’s just a matter of bringing it all together.”

The 6-foot-7, 271-pound Webster looks like an ideal pass rusher for the Lions, who also feature the 6-foot-6, 279-pound Ziggy Ansah and 6-foot-7, 275-pound Devin Taylor. But Webster weighed 252 pounds at the combine last year and Caldwell thinks he’s still adapting to the added weight, though Webster said he’s comfortable at his size.

When the Lions make their roster decisions, Webster could be a point of contention. He likely wouldn’t contribute as much as other reserve defensive linemen battling for a job like Phillip Hunt, Jermelle Cudjo or Corey Wootton, but it’d be tough for someone with his upside to slip through waivers onto the practice squad.

Webster understands he still has work to do and wants to make some plays in the next two exhibition games.

“Since last year, I feel like I’ve progressed a lot, but I still have a long way to go,” he said.