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Bucs looking to improve outside pass rush

TAMPA, Fla. -- It has been a decade since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had a player with double-digit sacks.

The last player to hit that mark was Simeon Rice in 2005.

“That’s totally unacceptable,’’ coach Lovie Smith said. “We talk about getting pressure with our four-man rush. A part of that normally says that one of our guys has to have 10-plus. I mean that’s the standard for an outside pass-rusher, 10-plus sacks. We haven’t played the type of defense we need to. As we become a better defense, that will change.’’

The lack of an outside pass rush was a problem for the Bucs last season. High-profile free agent Michael Johnson was a disappointment and was released after last season. The Bucs could have gone after another high-profile pass-rusher in free agency or the draft but chose not to.

Quietly, they signed George Johnson as a free agent from Detroit. He had six sacks last season, but those are the only sacks of his career. The Bucs are taking a gamble that Johnson and Jacquies Smith can provide an active outside pass rush. Smith had 6.5 sacks last season.

Lovie Smith said the arrival of Johnson and defensive tackle Henry Melton should provide a boost for a defensive line that needs to produce big this season.

“Those are good football players added to a pretty good line,’’ Smith said. “We expect that. Not just expect it, we have to have it. The pressure is on our defensive line. We talk about that always for them. They need to play dominating ball and we think we’ll be able to do that.’’