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Gerald McCoy and Brian Price will learn the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' techniques — with help from Warren Sapp

TAMPA — Gerald McCoy knows he will never be another Warren Sapp.

But the Bucs' first-round draft pick from Oklahoma eventually will benefit from the knowledge the seven-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle plans to share with him and fellow rookie defensive tackle Brian Price.

"There's no way (they) can be in Tampa and me not help both these kids out," Sapp said.

Sapp was in Los Angeles this week working for the NFL Network. He had just gotten off the phone with Price, the Bucs' second-round pick out of UCLA.

He likes McCoy and Price, both of whom will work out during the Bucs' three-day minicamp that starts today.

He interviewed both before the draft, and they have exchanged text messages.

"He's about to go to a whole another level and will be running into people he will never see on a college level," Sapp said of McCoy. "The best thing he has got going for him is another dude beside him. When you're by yourself and asked to climb Mount Everest with one tool bag, it's tough.

"(Price is) all giddy and gung ho. They're just two lovable kids right now, and we'll see if they get a job done."

At 6 feet 4, 297 pounds, McCoy is considered the perfect fit at the three-technique, the position Sapp and Vikings Hall of Famer John Randle mastered.

McCoy played in a similar one-gap scheme at Oklahoma, where he demonstrated an explosive burst off the snap and ability to penetrate and disrupt the play.

So what is the three-technique?

Basically, it's a name assigned to the position at which McCoy will line up on the defensive line.

"Ninety percent of the time, he's lining up on the outside shoulder of the guard on the tight end side of the formation," Bucs defensive line coach Todd Wash said. "In our package, when the ball is snapped and the team shows pass, he … can rush the B gap (between the guard and tackle) or the A gap (between the center and guard).

"To be able to do that, you have to have real good suddenness and be a very athletic player. When you watched Gerald play (at Oklahoma), you saw those traits."

Regardless of his accomplishments at Oklahoma, McCoy is in for a shock as an NFL rookie, Sapp said.

"The biggest transition will be the holding," Sapp said. "In college, I'd look at the referee and the flag would be dropped for holding. The first time I did that in the NFL, I turned to the referee and said, 'You didn't see that hold?' The ref looked at me and said, 'Grow up.' I said right then that it looks like I have to get this on my own. It's a learning curve that nobody, nobody can understand or appreciate. He's going to have some fun and some sleepless nights. It goes with that position.

"We're about to see how much does he really love it? You see his enthusiasm, but does that correlate to hours and hours in the office? When you want to go home to Oklahoma, maybe you should want to bring the family to Tampa. Everything he needs is here. Disney is right up the road."

Sapp had similar thoughts about Price:

"What does Price do coming back and forth to California? (McCoy) needs to be able to tell Price, 'When I come here, you come here.' They need to work together and fight as a team.' "

Price, 6-1, 303 pounds, is expected to play nose tackle or one-technique, lining up on the outside shoulder of the center on the side of the formation without a tight end.

"If you just have one defensive very good player, offenses are going to set protections. They're going to double, chip and really limit a lot of things he can do," Wash said. "Price is an athletic guy, and he has a good lower-body anchor, which is what you look for with the one-technique."

There was much debate before the draft about who was the better defensive tackle — McCoy or Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh.

Suh played in a two-gap system, meaning he was asked to hold the line of scrimmage and be responsible for making the tackle in one of two gaps. McCoy was asked to penetrate the line of scrimmage and maintain discipline in covering one gap.

The result was fewer tackles for McCoy. But Wash said McCoy had a higher draft grade than Suh in terms of the Bucs' system.

Sapp said he knows McCoy will have a target on his chest.

"If you're a good player in this league, they circle you," Sapp said. "Can you beat what they have planned? He has to be able to trust his eyes in what he's seeing because his hands and feet will follow him. If he goes into a game when he tried to play a power matchup game, he's in trouble."

Sapp won't be at the minicamp this weekend. But sometime during the summer, before the mandatory minicamp in June, he will take McCoy and Price aside and share his wisdom.

"You're the motor that makes it go," Sapp said of the three-technique. "You impact everything: how the linebackers are set, how the safeties are set. You've got to make the center slide to you. It's going to be fun. It all starts for them this weekend."

Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud@sptimes.com.

Fast facts

Bucs minicamp

What: Three noncontact practices

When: Today (2 to 3:50 p.m.), Saturday (2 to 3:50 p.m.) and Sunday (10:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.)

Who: Drafted and undrafted rookies and first-year players (those who have been on rosters but not appeared in a game)

Admission: Closed to the public

Coverage: The Times' Rick Stroud and Stephen F. Holder will have the latest news at bucs.tampabay.com and blogs.tampabay.com/bucs.

Gerald McCoy and Brian Price will learn the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' techniques — with help from Warren Sapp 04/29/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 30, 2010 6:27pm]
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