TAMPA — They will play side-by-side on the defensive line, they're rooming together in the hotel during the three-day minicamp, and their uniform numbers — 93 and 92 — are just one digit apart.
If they stick together, Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy and UCLA's Brian Price believe they can separate themselves as the league's most dynamic defensive duo.
"We're working one day to be the best tandem (of defensive linemen) in the National Football League," Price said after practice Friday. "That's big shoes to fill, but we're willing to put on 20 pairs of socks if we need to. We're willing to do whatever it takes."
For about two hours at One Buc Place, McCoy and Price, the Nos. 3 and 35 picks overall, respectively, in last week's draft passed the eyeball test.
In cone drills, bag drills and hitting the blocking sled, they had the quickest feet, the most explosive first step and more finishing power than any of the other undrafted free agents and tryout players assembled on the defensive line.
That's what you expect to see entering rookie minicamp. For the first day, McCoy and Price delivered.
"We do drills together where we partner up," McCoy said. "We're just trying to back each other, two rookies coming in trying to make some noise in Tampa.
"We talk about what we expect from each other, make sure we've got the plays down, keeping each other up and motivated."
McCoy, who had not played since the Sooners' 31-27 Sun Bowl victory over Stanford on New Year's Eve, wasn't nervous at all on his first day of work.
"No jitters, man," McCoy said. "I've been doing this my whole life. Just getting back to it. It's been a while since I've played football. I'm still brainwashed (with) how they did it at OU. I was picking up on it pretty quick, how they do it here. They have the Tampa 2 style but the D-line coach plays it a little differently than my coach did. He said it won't come (to me) overnight. But he said I had a pretty good first day.'
If McCoy had any butterflies, it was when he met Hall of Fame defensive end and Sooner legend Lee Roy Selmon. "Oh man, when I saw him, it was like, 'It's him!' " McCoy said of the former Bucs great.
It took no time for McCoy to take a leadership role, barking at linemates to finish the drills correctly and pushing them for more effort.
"That's just me. I told people once I step across those white lines, I turn into something different," he said. "I start to open up more — not that I'm a shy guy or quiet or anything. That's just where I live. So I open up when I get on the field."
Coach Raheem Morris said the Bucs tried the "scared straight" approach by increasing tempo on the practice field. But McCoy and Price had no trouble keeping up.
"Actually, it wasn't too much faster at all because in college, I was moving faster than the rest of the guys anyway," McCoy said.
Morris said it's hard to evaluate linemen during a non-contact minicamp, but he thought McCoy and Price made a good impression.
"They were out there running around, but they did a great job with what they were asked to do," Morris said. "They were very impressive guys in individual drills, and once they go to team (drills), you can grade these guys and give them a lot of credit for what they're doing. But still, the real thing for those guys inside the trenches is going to happen when the pads come on. But what we saw (Friday) definitely makes you excited about both of those guys down in the trenches.
"You definitely want to get those guys together. You want those guys to be on the same page. You'd love for those guys to really unite and form this ultimate guy. Let those guys go play together for a long time."