How do the Bucs intend to replace traded Brian Price?
After it’s all said and done, it doesn’t matter why the Bucs traded Brian Price.
What’s important, now that he’s gone, is how the Bucs plan to make up for the loss of a defensive tackle who started 14 games in 2011. There’s no final answer at the moment, but we can begin to narrow down the options.
First, based on interviews and observations, Amobi Okoye, while talented, doesn’t appear to be the guy. Because Price had settled into a nose tackle role in Tampa Bay, alongside three-technique defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, a likelier option is former Rams tackle Gary Gibson – a more conventional nose tackle. Also in the mix: veteran Roy Miller.
Okoye will have an important role this season, but the Bucs don’t see him as an ideal run-stopping nose tackle on early downs. For his part, Gibson hopes he can be a difference maker.
“I’m hoping I get a bunch of snaps,” Gibson said after today’s first training camp practice. “I’m ready to do some work with this team. I feel great.
“In the last couple of years, I’ve really fallen into a role of a guy who plays on first and second down. If I can get to the quarterback in that time, I’m going to do it. But as a defensive tackle, especially for me, stopping the run is a priority. If you don’t stop the run, you ain’t doing much else.”
At 312 pounds, Gibson is 20 pounds bulkier than the 292-pound Okoye. Miller, who weighs 310, also has the body type of a nose tackle.
But Okoye, who has some potential to play defensive end, according to the Bucs, is a natural fit next to McCoy on passing downs. That’s when the athletic Okoye can utilize his burst off the line of scrimmage to create a pass rush and, potentially, collapse the pocket. Okoye sees himself as a pass rusher before anything else.
“I’ll play any (position) that allows me to sack the quarterback,” he said, “and we have a nice menu this year.”
Another player to watch is Wallace Gilberry. Though he seems undersized, at 268 pounds, his name has come up when the subject of interior linemen comes up. Wallace has 14 combined sacks in his past three season while playing in a reserve capacity for the Chiefs, so he has some pass-rush ability.
Again, the Bucs don’t have all the answers yet. But they’re going to have to figure things out over the coming weeks given the importance of the defensive tackle position.