TAMPA — As the weather cools, DT Gerald McCoy is getting hotter.
Inspired by a pregame speech several weeks ago by defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake, who urged the Bucs to dial up their play in the final two months of the season, McCoy is playing his best when it matters most.
In the past two games, the first-round draft pick from Oklahoma this year has eight tackles, including one for a loss, three passes defensed, a sack and a forced fumble.
McCoy had two half-sacks, the first of his career, in the Bucs' 21-0 win at San Francisco on Sunday.
"It's a confidence builder. Now you know it is possible," McCoy said.
What has been the difference? McCoy said he is just playing faster.
"Everybody is starting to turn up the dial the second half of the season," McCoy said.
"We're real serious about what we're trying to do, and pretty soon everybody is going to see that."
McCoy's improvement has not been lost on the rest of the league.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh, whose team faces the Bucs on Sunday, has studied McCoy on film recently and noted the improvement in his play.
"I think he's taking his game to another level," Harbaugh said. "I think he's becoming a force in the pass rush. He's playing the run better and better all the time.
"He's going to be a premier tackle. He's a young guy, and he's learning how to play, and you can tell he's really working hard at it."
TRUEBLOOD CLOSER: RT Jeremy Trueblood, who has been active the past two weeks but not started because of a right knee sprain, had full participation in practice Thursday.
But coach Raheem Morris said the Bucs don't want to rush Trueblood back, especially because James Lee has done a credible job at right tackle for the past month.
"I've got to go watch (a tape of) practice (Thursday), but (Trueblood) was out there and practicing and was full, so let's go see where he was, see where the knee is and how things are working there," Morris said. "But I didn't see anything glaring from the field.
"It's always a competition. But James Lee has played well. No need to rush the guy back if you're not going to get a full-speed Trueblood, especially. So that's the caution there, that's what you're waiting for, for him to come back healthy and ready to deal."
ravens quiet on colors: The Ravens are preparing to wear black jerseys for Sunday's game against the Bucs. But the club is keeping quiet on the color of the pants.
The Ravens are 2-0 when they wear black tops and white pants. They have not worn black jerseys and black pants since 2007, before Harbaugh's arrival. Harbaugh doesn't like that combination.
INJURIES: DE Kyle Moore (shoulder) did not practice. At full participation with Trueblood were LB Quincy Black (ankle), WR Sammie Stroughter (foot) and TE Kellen Winslow (knee).