Bucs counting on more from rookie DL DaVonte Lambert
The Bucs continue to be impressed by rookie defensive lineman DaVonte Lambert, who not only made the opening 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent, but stepped up and made his NFL debut in Sunday's loss at Arizona, playing 29 snaps as a backup defensive end.
Lambert, who was signed after the draft out of Auburn without any signing bonus, showed enough promise in preseason that when Jacquies Smith was lost for the season to a torn ACL in the season opener, the Bucs opted to stick with the rookie rather than sign an NFL veteran for depth.
"I like that he's very good, in terms of (being a) technician -- he understands what his job is," defensive coordinator Mike Smith said Thursday. "I don't know that he understands the scheme, but he understands his job and he's a guy that is going to have to play significant snaps for us."
Lambert, 6-foot-2 and 282 pounds, had worked primarily as a backup three-technique defensive tackle, the same position that Gerald McCoy plays, but showed enough versatility that the Bucs used him outside at defensive end, where he can handle himself against the run and as a pass rusher. He had no tackles in his debut Sunday, but continues to make a strong impression on his teammates.
"DaVonte Lambert did great for us last week," McCoy said. "He played like 30-plus snaps, in the second week of the season. You've got a guy like that, that if you were to ask 'Is he going to make the team?' in the spring when he got here, I don't think (anybody) assumed he was going to be here. But he is, and he played a lot and this week he's going to play even more. It's a 'next man up' mentality, and those guys are hungry."
With Robert Ayers yet to practice this week after leaving Sunday's game with an ankle injury, there's a good chance a second undrafted rookie end, Ole Miss' Channing Ward, will be active Sunday and making his NFL debut against the Rams. Three of the Bucs' five defensive ends would be rookies, including a potential starter in second-round draft pick Noah Spence.