What happened to Bucs pass-rusher Noah Spence?

Defensive end Noah Spence, a second-round pick of the Bucs in 2016, doesn't have a tackle this season and has barely played. [Times file (2017)]
Defensive end Noah Spence, a second-round pick of the Bucs in 2016, doesn't have a tackle this season and has barely played. [Times file (2017)]
Published October 9 2018
Updated October 9 2018

TAMPA — Bucs defensive end Noah Spence has played. He's been inactive. He's been active and not played.

Overall this season, the former second-round pick has played in one game and has no tackles.

For Spence, who had 5.5 sacks as a rookie but saw his first two pro seasons cut short by a recurring right shoulder injury, 2018 has been his worst year.

Spence has expressed his frustration to head coach Dirk Koetter a few weeks ago, but not much has changed.

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"No I understand. He's a competitor,'' new defensive line coach Brentson Buckner said. "I want you to be mad. If he wasn't mad, I'd say we've got the wrong guy in the room. I want you to be frustrated. Understand that, wow, there's still some more I need to do? Let me get busy and work. Football is not instant. You don't put it in the microwave and you become this great player all the time. It's consistency.

"My response is just continue to work. There's nobody in this building that's a finished product. Some are more polished than the others. Noah has some things he has to work on. He understands that. I keep it between me and Noah. But he understands I'm here to help him get better, to help him be the best Noah Spence he can be. We're a deep D-line. Let's be honest. And he's just got to keep going because his number is going to get called. This is a marathon, not a 100 yard dash.''

The Bucs are tied for 26th in the NFL with eight sacks, including four by DE Jason Pierre-Paul.

Shaun Wilson has ‘traits to be a good returner’

The Bucs are 31st in the NFL with a kickoff return average of only 15 yards. Rookie Shaun Wilson handled those duties the first three games, but after a lackluster performance against the Steelers, he was inactive as the Bucs promoted running back Ronald Jones. At Chicago, Jacquizz Rodgers took over the kickoff return duties.

The Bucs believe Wilson has a chance to be a good kickoff return man. He had a 29-yarder against the Saints in the season opener.

"Obviously, in the preseason and in New Orleans, the first one he brought out, Shaun did a nice job,'' special teams coach Nate Kaczor said. "And as you all know very well, the special teams coach works with the active roster so obviously the people that make the decisions on the active roster, I have some input on that, but you play who is out there. With Shaun and Ronald Jones and those guys developing at running back, that's going to be a work in progress. But Shaun has been seeing the seam pretty well.

"In the Pittsburgh game, they've been kicking shorter and higher and Boswell is pretty good at that. We had a decent average start at the 24-yard line. But he probably wasn't seeing it like he had been in the past. So we're still working with him. He still has the traits to be a good returner. We've all seen that.''

INJURIES: DT Beau Allen (foot), TE O.J. Howard (knee) and CB Carlton Davis (groin) did not practice Monday. S Jordan Whitehead (hamstring), who did not play at Chicago, returned to practice Monday.

Contact Rick Stroud at [email protected] Follow @NFLStroud