The Detroit Lions must replace Ndamukong Suh’s pass-rush prowess this season, and Haloti Ngata can’t shoulder the load all on his own. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is hoping his young D-ends can make a major impact in 2015, according to Justin Rogers of MLive.com.
The guy leading the charge needs to be Ezekiel Ansah, a former first-round pick with 15.5 sacks through two NFL seasons.
“We think that he has a chance to be an outstanding defensive end in this league, one of the top-tier guys," Austin told MLive.com. "If he continues to develop and progress, he’ll get there.”
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Austin also has confidence that Devin Taylor will recover from a bit of a sophomore slump in 2014. Although he didn’t start a single game last year, early indications tell the defensive coordinator that Taylor will be tough to keep on the sideline in 2015.
“Devin looks really good so far," Austin said, per MLive.com. "He looks more explosive than he was last year. He looks stronger, so we’re pleased with where he is. We just have to get him to continue to develop and take that into the games so we can get more out of him, so he can get more out of himself, really.”
Completing the trifecta of young defensive ends with tremendous upside is Larry Webster, a former basketball player with extreme athleticism. Austin believes Webster’s frame fits the bill of a football player more so than it did last season.
“I think when you look at Larry Webster, he put on a lot of great weight," Austin told MLive.com. "Last year when he came in, he was about 250, maybe. But he’s a 265-, 270-pound man and he looks like a defensive end at this point. We’re anticipating that he’ll grow by leaps and bounds and we won’t see the proof until we get into the preseason and the contact. We like where he is so far.”