The Bucs are already down two starters on the defensive line and coming off a game with no sacks, but DT Gerald McCoy made it clear how big a challenge awaits his group Sunday, facing Dallas and what he considers the NFL's best offensive line.
"The best. You can quote me on that," McCoy said Thursday as the Bucs prepared for the Cowboys. "It's the best offensive line in the league. They work so well together. Individually they are all talented, but what makes them so good is how tight-knit of a group they are. If one guy gets beat, he's never beat because there is always somebody helping him."
The Cowboys' line includes three recent first-round draft picks — LT Tyron Smith (2011), C Travis Frederick (2013) and RG Zack Martin (2014), as well as rookie LG La'el Collins, widely projected as a first-round pick before off-field concerns left him undrafted. He signed as a free agent.
Dallas doesn't jump out statistically as an offensive line — the Cowboys have actually given up three more sacks (17 total) than the Bucs have this season, and the team ranks 10th in the NFL with an average of 4.5 yards per carry, rushing for 1,029 yards in eight games.
McCoy said he likes the challenge of going up against what he sees as the best, of having something significant to measure his own position group against.
"You have to look at it as an opportunity and experience," he said. "I'm sure people who play in the NBA one day when they retire ... you're going to say, 'I played against Kobe Bryant.' 'I played against LeBron James' or whoever it may be. ... I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be fun."