As we start to look ahead to training camp, we're going to take a position-by-position look at the Detroit Lions roster. Next up is the defensive end position. (The final year of each player's contract is listed in parentheses.)
The Lions have only three defensive ends back from last season. One of them, Ziggy Ansah, is coming off a strong rookie season. He seems poised for even bigger things in 2014, but he will have to get healthy after having offseason shoulder surgery.
Speaking of getting healthy, that's what Jason Jones has been trying to do since early last season. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in the third game of the 2013 season, and he's been working his way back ever since. For 2014, assuming he is able to get back up to full speed, Jones should be a starter at defensive end and get some situational work inside at defensive tackle as well.
The other returning defensive end is Devin Taylor. Like Ansah, Taylor is entering his second season in the NFL. Taylor showed an awful lot of promise in limited moments last season, and the hope is that he will eventually challenge Jones for that second starting spot at defensive end. At the very least, he should continue to grow as a pass rusher in 2014.
New to the team at defensive end are Darryl Tapp, Larry Webster, George Johnson and Kalonji Kashama. Tapp joined the Lions as a free agent, and his ability to play defensive end and outside linebacker could come in handy. Webster, meanwhile, is a raw player who was selected by the Lions in the fourth round of this year's draft. Those two players look like they will make the 53-man roster, meaning Johnson and Kashama will likely just end up being camp bodies.
Need going forward?
With so much youth at defensive end and Jones coming off a season-ending injury, it would have been nice for the Lions to address this position a bit more than they did this offseason. Then again, with a new defensive scheme in place, the Lions aren't necessarily going to have to rely on their defensive ends to create pressure. With multiple fronts being used to bring pressure from multiple positions, the Lions should be able to get by with what they have at defensive end.