Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers seek better play from same defensive linemen

TAMPA — The Bucs wrapped up their minicamp and offseason Thursday with high spirits and hopes. With a revamped roster, players expressed optimism about the chances for improvement after going 4-12 in 2011.

The sunny outlook even applied to the defensive line.

Last season, the Bucs ranked last in the NFL with 23 sacks. Yet they believe this season will be vastly different — even with largely the same personnel.

How, exactly, have they arrived at that conclusion? Put simply, the Bucs are counting heavily on better fortune when it comes to injuries.

"We have the talent. Everybody can get to the quarterback," defensive end Adrian Clayborn said. "It's just a matter of everybody being on the field."

No unit has had more misfortune with injuries than the defensive line.

Starting tackles Gerald McCoy (13) and Brian Price (12) have combined to miss 25 games over their first two seasons. Starting left end Da'Quan Bowers is expected to miss this season with a torn right Achilles tendon.

"That's a huge loss," coach Greg Schiano said of Bowers. "Of course you move on and fill in, but he was set to have a huge year."

And Price has been rehabbing his pelvic issues in Southern California.

Schiano regards pressuring quarterbacks as paramount in his scheme, so don't expect him to be satisfied with last season's inconsistent rush.

But the Bucs will be counting on, essentially, the same lineup to produce that pressure. While Tampa Bay created a stir in free agency by signing Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and Eric Wright to contracts potentially worth about $140 million, none play defensive line.

Improvement is likely if McCoy can stay on the field. He has landed on injured reserve in both of his seasons, tearing his right and left biceps, respectively, while missing 13 games. He was drafted third overall to be the centerpiece of the line and has shown flashes of dominance.

"(The injuries) make me play harder," McCoy said. "It's nothing but motivation."

One guy who has avoided injuries is Clayborn, last season's first-round pick and the team's leading sacker with 7½. Can he make a significant progression in Year 2? It's possible, especially because he likely won't face the dreaded rookie wall he now admits he hit.

"I think I started off good, and the body starts wearing down," said Clayborn, who played 16 games a year after playing 13 at Iowa. "I was trying to deny it, but it definitely hit."

If the Bucs do suffer injuries along the defensive line, they at least will be better prepared. The offseason signings of reserve tackles Amobi Okoye and Gary Gibson give them better depth. McCoy's injury in November prompted the team to claim tackle Albert Haynesworth (cut loose by two teams earlier in the season) off waivers.

If all else fails, Schiano has his ways of producing pressure. One of the trademarks at Rutgers was extensive use of blitzes.

"I don't think you want to ever be totally reliant on your down-four (linemen) because no matter how good you are, there will come a day when (the offense) will block it up and you better be good enough at blitzing," he said. "But you don't want to ever be totally reliant on blitzing because otherwise you leave yourself susceptible to some other things. So our thing has always been (having) a good mix.

"But I think we have some guys who can get after the quarterback."

Just so long as they manage to stay on the field.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers seek better play from same defensive linemen 06/14/12 [Last modified: Friday, June 15, 2012 12:43am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  2. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  3. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.

    Wearing white armbands, umpire Chris Guccione (68), left, Carlos Torres (37)(not wearing armband), center facing, Dana DeMuth (32) center right, and Paul Nauert (39) talk before the start of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. The World Umpires Association announced that umpires will be wearing white wristbands during all games to protest escalating verbal attacks on umpires and their strong objection to the Office of the Commissioner?€š€™s response to the attacks.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.

  5. Bucs journal: Simeon Rice gives master class on sacks to defensive ends

    Bucs

    TAMPA — As the Bucs seek their first 10-sack season from a player since Simeon Rice in 2005, who better to help that cause than Rice himself?

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Simeon Rice works with defensive end Noah Spence (57) after practice at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.