TAMPA — LB Quincy Black has quietly emerged as one of the Bucs' bright spots as of late, says coach Raheem Morris, who believes the third-year pro is coming into his own.
Black, 25, in his first year starting at strongside linebacker after spending two years primarily on special teams, is feeling more comfortable, and it's showing on the field. Morris praised him Thursday for how physical he has been on the line of scrimmage, specifically on tight ends, and the multiple packages he has picked up.
"I feel like I'm at home right now," Black said. "It's kind of day and night as far as some of the things I'm doing, doing some things that I did when I first got here. My understanding of the game has grown so much just from playing football and being on the field this year. That's helped me a lot."
Black, an athletic 6-foot-2, 227-pounder, is known for his physical play. "When you see him hit somebody, he's not a drag tackler, he's not a wrap tackler, he's a striker," defensive line coach Todd Wash said.
Wash said the Bucs have recently played more to Black's strength, putting him closer to the line of scrimmage over the tight end and limiting the looks he can get. "And he's playing a lot faster because of it," Wash said.
Black said he learned a lot from getting thrown into the fire, even if it meant getting burned a few times.
"The first two years, there were definitely some humbling experiences," said Black, a Chicago native. "Going out there, getting whooped a couple games is very humbling. But at the same time, you need that. You don't want to say you need to go out and get whooped, but you need those experiences. It kind of makes you realize that you've got to put in some work if you expect to win."
Black said he started to improve this season toward the end of the reign of fired defensive coordinator Jim Bates, and going back to the familiar Tampa 2 scheme more often helped his play.
"The more you play, the more looks you get, the more confidence you have as a player," Black said.
INJURY UPDATE: Morris said he is "leaning toward" keeping WR Michael Clayton (knee) out of Sunday's game in Seattle. Clayton has missed the past two games and didn't practice again Thursday.
DT Roy Miller, WR/KR Sammie Stroughter, LB Geno Hayes and G Davin Joseph were full participation. CB Derrick Roberson was limited.
TE John Gilmore (head) didn't participate again, putting his status in doubt. T Demar Dotson has taken reps at tight end in practice the past two weeks and said the adjustment hasn't been too difficult.
"I'm blocking; they're not sending me on a route," the rookie quipped. "It's just an extra tackle in the game. We're doing a lot of power running now, so I think we're going to run the ball more next game."
GIVING BACK: The Glazer Family Foundation announced its latest initiative, Vision Mobile, which will provide eye examinations to 1,500 disadvantaged children in west-central Florida. Over the past four years, the foundation has annually donated screening equipment to two school systems in the area.
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.