Howard Jones, DaVonte Lambert step up for Bucs in pass rush
As the Bucs move forward without DE Jacquies Smith, lost to a season-ending knee injury Sunday, they'll look to two young players -- second-year pro Howard Jones and rookie DaVonte Lambert -- to pick up larger roles in the Bucs' outside pass rush.
"Howard, what did he have, 5.5 sacks last year?" coach Dirk Koetter said of Jones, who had five. "Howard's a good pass rusher. Howard's got speed off the edge ... and Lambert obviously is a guy that we were excited enough about him to keep him here on the 53 (roster). His versatility, again a guy that can play inside or outside, kind of in the Robert Ayers mold, enough though he's a young guy. You have to develop your young guys in the NFL."
Lambert has been listed as a defensive tackle, but was moved to a second-team defensive end on the team's depth chart this week and said he has worked at both positions in practice. Lambert, who was inactive for Sunday's game, would be better suited to line up outside in the base defense, while Jones is better suited to be a "DPR" or "designated pass rusher" from the outside in the nickel package.
"It's going to allow some young guys to get some opportunities to play," defensive coordinator Mike Smith said. "Lambert is going to get an opportunity to get some snaps ... Howard's had some production in this league ... he's going to get an opportunity to rush the passer."