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Gaines Adams knows he has to respond to challenge by Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaches

TAMPA — No Bucs player has more dirty laundry being aired out in public than Gaines Adams.

He was called out by his head coach, Raheem Morris, who declared on the first day of training camp that if the No. 4 pick in the NFL draft two years ago doesn't reach double-digit sacks this season, he's a bust.

His defensive line coach, Todd Wash, has no qualms saying Adams needs to stick his face mask in the pile and develop a physical inside rush.

"We're putting an emphasis on that in practice, and to be honest with you, we're jumping his a-- a little bit because he does have to make that next step," Wash said.

His teammate, nose tackle Chris Hovan, claims one of the reasons he's still here is to help Adams learn how to be a pro.

"His talent is through the damn roof, we all see that," Hovan said. "It's just getting him to believe and to buy into what's necessary to succeed in this league. You have to live in the weight room. You have to live in the film room. You have to change your lifestyle, the way your nutrition is.

"Everybody wants immediate results from a top-five pick. Rightly so. But there's a little bit of a maturation process and he's finally getting it."

After two seasons and only 12.5 career sacks, Adams, 26, still has a long way to go to prove he is worthy of being selected three spots higher than Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

But the one thing he has developed is a thick skin.

What does Adams think of Morris' sack quota?

"I take it as a challenge," Adams said in nearly hushed tones. "Being drafted with the fourth overall pick, it comes with the territory. This is Year 3 for me. Obviously, it's time for me to step up."

What about the way everybody is pleading for Adams to become more physical — an NFL euphemism for "he's soft."

"I've tried to get by on my speed for two years and it's only gotten me six and 6½ sacks over my career (in 2007 and '08 respectively)," Adams said. "So obviously, I'm going to have to do something different."

But before the Bucs back up the team bus to run over Adams, a little perspective.

His 12.5 sacks are more than the four other defensive ends taken in the first round of the 2007 draft combined. The Falcons' Jamaal Anderson (No. 8 overall, two sacks), the Rams' Adam Carriker (13th, two sacks), the Broncos' Jarvis Moss (17th, 31/2 sacks) and the Cowboys' Anthony Spencer (26th, 41/2 sacks) have totaled 12 over two seasons.

It's also instructive to note Adams is not surrounded by three other members of the Fearsome Foursome. Hovan, Ryan Sims and Jimmy Wilkerson have never had more than six sacks in a single season.

At 6 feet 5, 258 pounds, Adams is built more like a small NBA forward. Like many elite pass rushers, he got by with his explosive speed during his career at Clemson.

Consequently, Adams never developed a move beyond his outside rush. And before this offseason, he never did squats to improve his leg strength.

"If you only have speed, they're just going to run you right through the pocket," defensive coordinator Jim Bates said. "That's what the young defensive ends have to learn, that this is a big man's league and if you can't bring power, if you can't bring the long arm with speed and power or use your hands and come off of a speed rip, then speed won't get you many sacks in this league."

Hovan, who learned that from former Bucs defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, calls it building a toolbox.

"You start your toolbox. You put your Phillips head and your flathead (screwdriver) in there," Hovan said. "All of a sudden, you add a wrench. You add a hammer. And pretty soon, you have different tools."

Morris knows Adams has some tools, but he'd like to also see him improve his strength and endurance.

"Simeon (Rice) won by attrition," Morris said. "At one point you, being 330 pounds, are not going to be able to block me. I'm going to get a sack, fumble and it's going to turn the whole game around. And that's got to be Gaines' mentality.

"That's what he has to be. He was picked, what? Four? There's no secrets."

Gaines Adams knows he has to respond to challenge by Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaches 08/03/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 4, 2009 6:56am]
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