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Lions add free-agent pass rusher Quanterus Smith

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Days away from training camp, the Detroit Lions are adding competition along the defensive line.

The team on Wednesday announced the signing of free-agent end Quanterus Smith on Twitter:

Smith hits Detroit after spending last season as a practice-squad player with both the Jets and Jaguars. He didn't see a snap with either team, but appeared in 15 games with Denver in 2014 after the Broncos originally made him their fifth-round pick in 2013.

The Western Kentucky product has tallied 11 career tackles and two passes defensed at the NFL level. Smith played in every game during his college career with the Hilltoppers and drew a predraft comparison to former Bears, Texans and Patriots end Mark Anderson.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Smith will compete for snaps against a collection of Lions pass rushers led by the massively disruptive Ziggy Ansah. Veterans Devin Taylor and Wallace Gilberry round out the roster ahead of sixth-round pick Anthony Zettel and undrafted ends Deonte Gibson and Louis Palmer. It's a top-heavy group with plenty of young players set to compete after Jason Jones bolted for Miami in free agency.

We wouldn't be shocked to see general manager Bob Quinn add another veteran during camp, but this group will rise or fall with Ansah, who flattened signal-callers last year to the tune of 14.5 sacks, becoming just the second Lions player ever to record 20-plus takedowns over his first three seasons.

"I think he's got an unbelievable motor for a 270-pound man," defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said of Ansah this offseason, per the team's official website. "He plays as hard as I've seen a guy play. He runs, he's tough, those are special traits for a guy like that. A lot of times you see big guys, they take plays off. I've never seen the guy take a play off."

As for Smith, he drew plenty of attention during his senior year at Western Kentucky, leading the nation with 12.5 sacks before an ACL tear prematurely ended his season. Despite the injury, he still finished the campaign as the FBS leader in sacks per game (1.25) and was voted the 2012 Sun Belt Player of the Year. He gained national attention after holding his own against former Alabama and current Chargers offensive tackle D.J. Fluker. Check him out:

"If you have some edge ability and you're a little raw, that's the kind of guy they want to develop right there," NFL Media draft expert Mike Mayock said after Smith was picked by the Broncos in 2013.

After red-shirting as a rookie, though, Smith ended his 2014 season on injured reserve because of problems with that same left knee and was waived the following April. After passing through the Jets organization, the Jaguars released him last month.

As an end who plays exclusively in four-man fronts, Smith's biggest challenge in Detroit is staying healthy and somehow nabbing a roster spot. This might be his last chance in the NFL, but plenty of evaluators haven't forgotten about his pre-ACL college tape. 

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