Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy took a deep breath and braced himself for the inevitable question about being compared to Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
"It's about time the question came,'' McCoy said. "I'm waiting on it.
"I play defensive tackle, so does he. He's going against our o-line, I'm going against his. It's Bucs vs. the Lions, not me vs. him. I'll leave it at that.''
Except as McCoy knows, it will probably never be left at that.
Suh was the second overall pick by the Detroit Lions in the 2010 NFL draft. McCoy went a pick later to the Bucs. They both played in the Big 12, Suh at Nebraska and McCoy at Oklahoma. They both wear No. 93 in the pros.
Suh had 10 sacks, forced a fumble and had an interception to be named All Pro and the NFL's Rookie of the Year. McCoy went sackless for nine games, finished with three and missed the final month of the season with a torn biceps, including the 23-20 overtime loss to Detroit that wound up knocking the Bucs out of the playoffs.
McCoy understands the comparisons with Suh are inevitable. "That's how the world works,'' McCoy said. "You come in out of college and you were ranked pretty high and the other guy is ranked high and has the same position, you're going to be compared, that's just how it goes. Nick Fairly and Marcel Darius, well Marcel Darius went a lot higher than him so that's why there's really not a tie. But we were like No. 2 and No. 3. They played in the Big 12 and both wore 93! Ah, get over it. It's Bucs vs. the Lions, it's going to be a great opening day.''
Lions coach Jim Schwartz said he studied both players closely prior to the NFL draft and still believes they both will be successful. He also knows they have different games. Suh does it more with power, McCoy uses his quickness and speed to get up the field.
"He needs to be the player that Tampa wants him to be and he needs to develop into his player,'' Schwartz said. "They're two completely different players, two completely different styles, two guys that we thought very highly of. I'm sure Tampa felt very highly of both guys and both guys wound up having great careers.
"McCoy was hurt at the end of the year and wasn't able to finish, but he played very well. It might be more with Ndamukong. Usually, when you have rookies out there, you're saying things like, "You watched the film and he really played good. He just didn't get that sack or he didn't quite have the production he could've had. I think McCoy has looked very good throughout the preseason, he's obviously healthy now and looks to be on his way to an outstanding career. But they're different players, the same way that (Josh) Freeman and (Matthew) Stafford are different players. People can compare them all they want, but I'm pretty sure neither of those guys is comparing himself to the other guy. They're worried about going and being a productive player, fitting in their scheme and doing the very best they can every week.''