One day after former Bucs coach Greg Schiano said his current Ohio State defensive line is more talented than any he had in Tampa Bay, his former players had a chance to respond to the unexpected shot.
"I'm guessing it was to make his defensive line more confident, but it surprised me that he said it," said George Johnson, who was cut midway through Schiano's first season, rejoining the Bucs in 2015. "But, coming from Coach Schiano, it really didn't surprise me."
Johnson said he had respect for his 2012 linemates, including DT Gerald McCoy (five straight Pro Bowls) and DE Michael Bennett, who had nine sacks that season and has had 30.5 in the last four years since signing with Seattle.
"The fact is, they're still in college, trying to get to where we are," Johnson said. "You can't compare a college team to an NFL team. There's so many differences in talent. It's kind of hard to say that when we've got one guy in the Pro Bowl every year and another guy (Bennett) in the top 100."
Gerald McCoy also took the high road -- "everybody's entitled to their own opinion," he said. Will Gholston, a rookie under Schiano in 2013 and a Michigan State grad, said he just took the comments as Schiano trying to build up his current players, not knock his former players.
"Those are his guys now. You have to put as much faith and courage into your guys, make them believe in themselves," he said. "Other than that, it's just his opinion. It doesn't matter. First year in the league, I learned a lot, got a lot of different lessons that I've taken with me into my fifth year in the league."