Thursday, July 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Worried about inside runs, Bucs add 345-pound Sealver Siliga

TAMPA — Sealver Siliga had one practice with the Bucs this week, but that's all it took for him to know what he can add to the Bucs' defensive line.

"Big, is one," Siliga said. "That's relevant. I think I bring good power to this game."

The 6-foot-2, 345-pound Siliga (whose full name is pronounced Silver Suh-Ling-ah) has 51/2 career sacks in 30 games with the Broncos, Patriots and Seahawks. The Utah native of American Samoan heritage was claimed off waivers from Seattle last week.

With his defense getting gashed on runs between the tackles, defensive coordinator Mike Smith decided that size matters. In the Bucs' past three games, the Raiders, Falcons and Bears have combined to rush for 255 yards on 44 carries (5.79 average) on runs up the middle. During that stretch, the Bucs yielded nine runs of 10 yards or more. In fact, Tampa Bay never did stop the Bears' Jordan Howard, who had 15 carries for 100 yards before inexplicably not getting the football much in the second half.

"We were trying to get a little bit more size in the interior, and Sealver played a lot of ball," Smith said.

The Bucs have always had smaller, quicker tackles in a one-gap, 4-3 defense such as Gerald McCoy. But considering how they have lost control of their gaps recently, Siliga at least should be a space eater in the middle of the D.

"That's always the case, guys out of the gaps is always the case, whether they get moved out of their gaps or whether they, assignment-wise, got out of their gaps," Smith said. "But that's how any successful run play (happens) because to make yards in the NFL, you've either got to get someone out of their gap, or the back has to break a tackle, or you've got to trick them by cracking and getting outside. There's only so many ways that you can do it, but that's by far the most common."

Siliga says he has gotten a crash course on the defense from former teammates Robert Ayers and Clinton McDonald. He could play today if needed, but coach Dirk Koetter wasn't too committal.

"Yeah, we didn't get a whole lot of chances," Koetter said. "Sealver flew all night to get here, so great effort by him just to practice on Thursday. … I think we've seen enough of him to know he's going to help us. It might not be this week, but it's going to be soon."

NOAH ARCING UP: This may be lunacy, but Noah Spence could get on a hot streak and become the first Bucs player since Simeon Rice to record at least 10 sacks in a season. Noah is tied with San Diego's Joey Bosa and the Jags' Yannick Ngakoue for second among rookies with four sacks.

Last Sunday, Spence also contributed by sniffing out a screen pass and making Bears QB Jay Cutler double-clutch, resulting in McDonald's sack. Spence also has forced two fumbles.

"We think that Noah, his skill set is very good for being a good pass rusher," Smith said. "He's strong-handed, he's quick off the ball, he can bend and I think we're seeing the more opportunities he has to rush, the more success he's going to have. I still believe that the ceiling's a lot higher than what he's performing right now, but he's performing at a very good level for a first-year player."

FOCUS, FOCUS: It will be interesting to see if there is any residue from WR Mike Evans' decision to sit for the national anthem last week, though he vows to stand with teammates from now on. Missouri is a red state and Chiefs fans are relentless. For a player who had trouble with dropped passes a year ago, this should be interesting.

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