Friday, June 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Adrian Clayborn injury presents problems for Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line

TAMPA — The Bucs' two leading internal candidates to fill the void left by injured defensive end Adrian Clayborn agree on one thing:

It's an impossible task.

"You can't replace that kind of guy," Daniel Te'o-Nesheim said.

"A.C. brought a style to this defensive line that nobody can bring," George Johnson said. "Nobody can really match his intensity."

But with Clayborn heading for season-ending knee surgery, both Johnson and Te'o-Nesheim are embracing the potential opportunity to step up. It's a tall task, as the two have combined for two NFL starts. And while defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and end Michael Bennett boast most of the line's sack production, Clayborn — their first-round pick 2011 — was their engine.

"Adrian was always our energy," McCoy said. "He was always a high-motor guy, all over the field making splash plays. You always need that on a defense, so we're going to miss that. But somebody has to step up and fill that void. You hate to lose your No. 1 guy, but we've still got 13 more (games) to play."

Coach Greg Schiano said they are considering all options, including looking outside or making schematic changes (using three down linemen or moving Bennett from left end to right). For now, the Bucs elevated Te'o-Nesheim to starting right end, but he'll likely continue to compete with Johnson.

"George has done well, he's been inactive the last two weeks, but that's more of a numbers thing," Schiano said. "Daniel has done well when we played him."

Schiano coached Johnson, 24, at Rutgers. Johnson signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010, spent most of last season on the practice squad, and played in the opener.

"He's always had confidence in me," Johnson said of Schiano. "Every day he talks to me, says, 'I have the utmost confidence in you.' Now it's time to put that confidence to the test and me be confident doing what I'm doing, and him being confident in me going out there and playing."

Te'o-Nesheim, 25, Philadelphia's third-round pick in 2010, was plucked from its practice squad in November, and played the first three games. He entered in the fourth quarter Sunday when Clayborn got hurt. Te'o-Nesheim isn't the biggest guy (6 feet 3, 263 pounds), but plays with great effort.

"Getting to play is everybody's goal," he said. "I just hope to make the best of it."

McCoy pointed out the Bucs have dealt with injuries on the defensive front before; after all, he missed 13 of his first 32 games. Tampa Bay has been without defensive end Da'Quan Bowers since he suffered a torn Achilles in May, though he's eligible to come off the physically-unable-to-perform list after Week 6.

The absence of Bowers, the team's second-round pick in 2011, has been filled by Bennett, who has emerged as a force since he was claimed off of waivers from Seattle in 2009. Bennett has three sacks and two forced fumbles in three games this season after racking up four sacks in 2011. Though the Bucs could move Bennett from left to right end, he "really wants" to stay where he is.

"I'd rather stick to what I do," Bennett said. "Whatever they want to do, I'm more comfortable playing my same position I always play. But if they want me to go there, I'll go there."

Bennett is confident either Johnson or Te'o-Nesheim can get it done.

"Daniel is a very impressive player — he just needed the opportunity," Bennett said. "Every time he gets the opportunity, he makes a couple plays. That's what we need. George is a guy who really works hard, wants to get his chance. I believe he'll capitalize on his opportunity."

Shipley out, Parrish in

The Bucs will have their third punt returner in as many weeks Sunday when it's expected new signee Roscoe Parrish will field punts.

Parrish, a former second-round pick of the Bills out of the University of Miami, signed Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Bucs released receiver Jordan Shipley, who fumbled a punt return in his first game with Tampa Bay on Sunday in Dallas.

Parrish's career 12-yard average on punt returns since 2005 ranks second in that span behind Bears receiver Devin Hester (12.8). Parrish's average is the seventh-best in NFL history for players with 75 returns or more.

Punt returns have been an issue since preseason, when receiver Preston Parker was relieved of those duties because of multiple fumbles. His replacement, receiver Sammie Stroughter, went on injured reserve last week with a foot injury. That led to Shipley's brief stint.

The Bucs have an available roster spot after placing Clayborn on injured reserve on Monday.

Times staff writer Stephen Holder contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

New details have emerged about the Uber ride in Arizona in March 2016 that led to Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston's three-game suspension to start the upcoming season, including the fact that Winston was in a car that night with a former Vanderbilt f...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Chris Godwin on SiriusXM: Bucs have confidence in backup QBs

Chris Godwin on SiriusXM: Bucs have confidence in backup QBs

Bucs receiver Chris Godwin, who has had as good an offseason as any Tampa Bay player, was on SiriusXM NFL radio for a scheduled interview on Thursday night, talking about a range of subjects, including the news of Jameis Winston's suspension to start...
Updated: 7 hours ago
With Winston suspension, how might Bucs split QB reps in preseason?

With Winston suspension, how might Bucs split QB reps in preseason?

With news that Jameis Winston will be suspended for the first three games of 2018, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has an interesting decision to make for training camp and especially in preseason games: How does he split reps between Winston and backup Ryan...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs QB Jameis Winston’s suspension: What they’re saying

Bucs QB Jameis Winston’s suspension: What they’re saying

There are so many sides to the Jameis Winston suspension, and it will continue to be a major Bucs story line through September and beyond. Here's some of the reactions and notes that have already emerged in the first 24 hours since news broke Thursda...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Welcome back to the dark side, Bucs fans

Welcome back to the dark side, Bucs fans

TAMPA — Thursday was not the end of Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay, but it is in sight.Me? I was sitting at home. I was tired of the NBA draft, even with Tampa's Kevin Knox going to the New York Knicks.So I switched to the NFL Network. An episode ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Winston aftermath: Report says Darby wasn’t in car for whole ride

Winston aftermath: Report says Darby wasn’t in car for whole ride

There's no telling how much detail will be disclosed in what the NFL learned in its investigation that led to Jameis Winston being suspended for the first three games of the upcoming season, but some have already been reported in the first 24 hours s...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Kwon Alexander to Jameis Winston: ‘We gotcha back’

Kwon Alexander to Jameis Winston: ‘We gotcha back’

There are many questions in the aftermath of Thursday's news that Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston will be suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season, but even before the suspension is officially announced, he is drawing support on social ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston to receive three-game suspension

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston to receive three-game suspension

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston will be suspended by the NFL for three games according to reports, and that number could go up if he doesn't meet certain criteria.Rick Stroud explains that the suspension is not for a failure to report the 2016 i...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

The NFL will suspend Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston three games without pay to start the regular season for violating the league's personal conduct policy. The suspension could be increased if he fails to meet certain undisclosed requirements expect...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

TAMPA — The news of Jameis Winston's suspension to start this season likely means the Bucs will have veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick stepping in at quarterback for the first three games of the regular season.Fitzpatrick took over as the starter for th...
Published: 06/21/18