TAMPA — Rookie DT Gerald McCoy, the Bucs' first-round pick, felt like it was time to get things in proper perspective Wednesday, so he got a few things off his chest.
He wanted to be unmistakably clear: He is not Warren Sapp despite the many comparisons made between him and the former Bucs All-Pro tackle.
"I can't be Sapp," McCoy said. "I don't know why people keep expecting me to be. I'm Gerald McCoy. That's Warren Sapp. We are who we are."
The topic came up Wednesday after Bucs coach Raheem Morris showed film of the team's vaunted defenses of the past, an effort to get the current players to display the same kind of attitude and demeanor.
McCoy said this young group, though it's struggling now, can be great, too. But he implored fans to understand that it takes time.
"We're going to grow as a family," he said. "We're the second-youngest team in the league, and we're going to grow that way. Everybody talks about how the old Bucs did it, blah, blah, blah. That's fine. They did do it their way, and they did it great. But they grew to that.
"Sapp wasn't always Sapp. He picked up on it fast. Ronde (Barber), he's a Hall of Famer, but he wasn't always him. (Derrick) Brooks wasn't always Brooks. (John) Lynch wasn't always Lynch. Those guys grew to that; the same thing we're doing."
McCoy added he had something of an epiphany this week, realizing he is allowing his efforts to play within the structure of the scheme to handcuff him.
"The thing about the (defensive tackle) in the Tampa 2 defense is he can't be wrong," he said. "Everybody else has to read off him. Whereas I was thinking, 'I can't get out of my gap.' You just have to go out there and play reckless. You have to play smart. You can't go do just anything. But you have to play reckless. You can play with structure, but (sometimes), you just have to say, 'Whatever, I'm going.'
"I was playing like, 'Oh my gosh, don't make a mistake' instead of, 'Oh my gosh, I made a mistake but I made it going 1,000 miles an hour.' That's the difference in what I was doing and in what I will do."
It was a realization reinforced by a meeting with Morris.
"You never know whether the light bulb comes on until you get out there and play and do it," Morris said. "But admittedly, there was some confusion. … He'll be fine. He's still young in his development. And we're getting there. We're coming around, and hopefully, we can see the improvement this week."
Said McCoy: "Yes, they drafted me this year to make a change. But also just like when they drafted Sapp, it's a process. … It's not going to be an overnight deal."
PRICE HURTING: Rookie DT Brian Price, the Bucs' second-round pick, has a pelvis injury and was described by Morris as being "week to week." When asked if Price would miss Sunday's game against the Rams, Morris said it's possible.
Price has been slowed by a lingering hamstring injury since the offseason and was just rounding into shape and playing more snaps.
He did not practice Wednesday and, given Morris' assessment, could be out awhile.
"I'm not a doctor, so I'm not going to try to explain it," Morris said. "There are some issues going on there, and we're looking into it."
STAYING POSITIVE: RB Kareem Huggins, just two days after learning he will miss the rest of the season with a torn right ACL, was back in the locker room fraternizing with teammates and vowing to come back even better.
"Things happen," he said. "I have to be positive and come back even stronger."
Huggins said he hasn't been given a firm timetable for a return but doesn't intend to be limited by it anyway.
"Whatever time they do give me," he said, "I want to try to come back faster than that just by work ethic."
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at email@example.com.