Rookie DT DaVonte Lambert makes most of snaps vs. Jaguars
With Gerald McCoy held out of Saturday night's preseason game with a minor ankle injury, the Bucs' other defensive tackles had an extra opportunity to showcase their skills as the team continues to search for its fourth defensive tackle.
The player that stepped up the most? Undrafted rookie DaVonte Lambert, who came up with three tackles, as many as the other six defensive tackles combined. The former Auburn player also dropped a Jaguars running back for a 4-yard loss, making a case for an earlier look in Friday's preseason home game against the Browns.
"I felt like I did good, but at the same time, looking at film, I can do a lot of things better, technique-wise," said Lambert, a 6-foot-2, 282-pound lineman who played defensive end at Auburn but is working as a three-technique defensive tackle with the Bucs. "Playing behind Gerald, I've been studying him a lot, talking to him about pre-snap indications, like run or pass. I've learned a lot for him."
Lambert led Auburn with 3.5 sacks in 2014 and was rated as the No. 1 junior college defensive line prospect after getting eight sacks in 2012 at Georgia Military College. His playing time Saturday came after the Jaguars' starters had left the game, but he was still productive in his 18 snaps -- among the defensive tackles, Clinton McDonald, A.J. Francis and rookie Travis Britz had one tackle each, while three others didn't register any tackles.
Lambert came to the Bucs as one of three undrafted rookies from Auburn, along with running back Peyton Barber and linebacker Cassanova McKinzy, who was waived Monday.
"It's great having some guys you played with on the team," Lambert said. "We talk every day about how this is what we dreamed about, this is what we have to keep fighting for."
Lambert is battling for a roster spot, but could also be in position for a slot on the practice squad if that doesn't work out. Friday's game is the last one before NFL teams cut their rosters from 90 to 75, with one more game to play before additional cuts four days later to the final 53.
"It's going to be big -- we have to come out and play hard, especially the third team," Lambert said of the Browns game Friday. "I'm going to make plays and keep my production high. Every day, I just look at it as doing my job. You can't look at the Internet and social media. I just go in with a laser focus and go do my job. That 53-man roster is a goal for me, so I keep pushing every day."