Thursday, September 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dallas Cowboys-Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Meet Sealver Siliga, a 345-pound obstacle for the Cowboys

TAMPA — Sealver Siliga was born the youngest of 11 children — five brothers, five sisters.

Whenever he's on the field, he's the largest of 11 players on the Bucs defense, a 345-pound presence in the middle of the line.

"He's like three people," says fellow defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, a mere 300 pounds himself. "Seriously, if you see him in practice or in a game, he takes two grown men and just holds them in place. It's like, 'How can you do that?' He doesn't get moved. He's always in place. It's a big help for us."

A month ago, after giving up 120-plus rushing yards in five straight games, the Bucs brought Siliga in after he had been waived by the Seahawks, hoping he could help Tampa Bay's run defense.

He has built a reputation in limited action, playing just 24 snaps off the bench in his first three games.

"He's a big, strong man that's going to require four hands," defensive coordinator Mike Smith. "He's not a guy you're going to be able to single-block, and that gives us an opportunity to get other guys free to the football."

The Bucs could need all of that Sunday in Dallas. The Cowboys feature the NFL's leading rusher, rookie Ezekiel Elliott, and an offensive line loaded with Pro Bowl talent.

"I'm real motivated," Siliga said. "Going against a high-caliber offense like them is always a great opportunity to showcase your skills."

Sealver Siliga — his name is pronounced "silver suh-LING-ah" — is of American Samoan heritage but was born in Utah, playing for the Utes in college. He left school early, went undrafted and played one game in his first two NFL seasons.

He was on his fourth NFL team when he got his first shot, with the Patriots in 2013-15, getting 13 starts. He was cut loose by New England and twice by the Seahawks before the Bucs gave him a look.

"I feel great," the 26-year-old said. "Everybody has welcomed me and helped ease the whole process of transitioning to a new team. I'm very lucky to be on this team."

Offensive lineman Evan Smith compares him to "a refrigerator" for his sheer size, and the guards that line up against him in practice now have a contrast to the smaller, quicker defensive linemen they're accustomed to facing.

"That's a big guy," guard Kevin Pamphile said with a laugh. "He brings a different dimension to our D-line. You go up against our athletic, quick guys like Gerald and Noah Spence and guys like that. Then you have a guy with so much mass, so you have to be really strong and stout. ... I'm trying to think of guys with his mass in the league right now. Not in our conference, there's no one with his size like that."

The Bucs are dressing four defensive tackles — McCoy and fellow starter Clinton McDonald and backups Siliga and Akeem Spence — underscoring the importance of having a fresh rotation in the interior to keep Dallas from asserting itself in the run game and on the scoreboard.

"They've got a great back, great offensive line," coach Dirk Koetter said. "Sealver is just one of everybody on the D-line to help us in that run game."

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected]tampabay.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

 
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