Photo by: Dona Keast and Kent Lee Platte
Overall Stock Down…
The Defensive Line
I have no doubts that Suh and Fairley are going to be a wrecking crew tandem this season. Both are in the best shape of their respective careers and have been just as advertized whenever they see the field. From that stepping off point, you would expect to walk out into a relatively solid group, basking in the glory of the extra pressure the big heavies are putting up the middle.
Instead, you have an injured Ziggy Ansah sitting out most of camp. We knew that was a possibility coming into camp, and maybe this group will seem less underwhelming with him back in the lineup. With him out, the open end has been a mish mash of question marks with no one really stepping up to own that spot and make a huge impact. Jason Jones and Devin Taylor have taken reps on the open end, but both are more closed end type players and haven’t had much impact when playing open.
Both Jones and Taylor have had moments, but they are few and far between. There has been some surprising development from 4th round rookie Larry Webster and journeyman George Johnson, so there is reason for some cautious optimism at the defensive end position. What if they don’t work out, though? What if it’s just camp, like it was last season with several DEs flashing in camp? Jason Jones has injury issues that make his 16 game availability a question mark and he is the ONLY full time defensive end with starting experience. Darryl Tapp may mitigate that somewhat, but his last start was 2011 and his last starting season was 2007. The added help from the LB group may be needed, not just a bonus.