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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs' McCoy compares Gholston to Peppers



Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy saw his team add two new key contributors to the defensive line in end Michael Johnson and tackle Clinton McDonald, but he's also excited about the progress he saw at the end of last season from rookie end William Gholston.

"Especially in this defense, Will is one of those rare guys, with his size and ability," McCoy said. "He has potential. He can do things he doesn't even realize he can do."

Gholston, a fourth-round pick from Michigan State, had just two tackles in the Bucs' first seven games and eight in the first 11 games. But in the final month of the season, he had 22 tackles in his final five games, including 1.5 sacks against the Bills. He moved into the starting lineup for the final two games and is expected to be in the rotation at end while also moonlighting inside at tackle in some situations.

"I had to tell him last year: 'Hey man, you know if you try this, nobody can stop it.' Then he'd go do it and (say) 'Aw, man, you were right,'" McCoy said. "'I know I was right. I've been trying to tell you this for five weeks.'" 

McCoy made a flattering comparison for Gholston, saying he reminds him of former Panthers and current Packers defensive end Julius Peppers, who played for Lovie Smith with the Bears from 2010-12 and totaled 30.5 sacks. Peppers is 6-7, 287 pounds, while Gholston is 6-7 and 275, and both have the versatility to rush from outside or hold their own on the interior.

"I always say he looks like Julius Peppers, in his pads and how he moves when he wants to," McCoy said. "I say 'Man, you could be that guy.' Pep plays inside sometimes, plays outside. When he wants to get to the quarterback he can. He's a physical specimen, and that's Will."

Gholston likely enters camp as Tampa Bay's No. 3 end, behind fourth-year pro Adrian Clayborn, who is expected to start at left end opposite Johnson. The Bucs also have former second-round pick Da'Quan Bowers, who has totaled just 20 tackles in the last two seasons, and another rookie from last season in Steven Means, who had five total tackles in limited action last year. Tampa Bay could add a pass-rusher in the draft, with some mock drafts pairing the Bucs with a defensive end as high as the second round.

[Last modified: Thursday, April 17, 2014 12:04pm]


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