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The Bucs' $46-million rookie is finding the early NFL pace daunting.
Published Aug. 16, 2007

If the Bucs were to draw up the perfect scenario, first-round pick Gaines Adams would be an unblockable, immovable wrecking ball from the first whistle of the season.

But this is the NFL, where reality can be sobering. And rest assured Adams' early experience has reinforced that concept.

At times, he has shown flashes of being the feared pass rusher he was at Clemson. In many other instances, he has been manhandled and outsmarted by veteran offensive linemen. At this point, even those who believe in him must admit things will not be easy for the fourth overall pick.

"I'll tell you," coach Jon Gruden said, "he's got his eyes opened pretty good."

And when the Bucs released their most prolific pass rusher, Simeon Rice, they instantly created higher expectations for the $46-million man. Whether Adams has met the expectations is debatable, but the belief is that, in time, he will impress.

"With the learning, he's fine," defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. "He's picked up (the scheme) pretty good for a rookie. But it's more about technique and things. It's different. This is the NFL.

"With all due respect to the offensive left tackles at South Carolina or North Carolina State, it's not the same when you line up here. You make this move or that move, it's not like they've never seen that move before. A sixth-year vet, he's going to say, 'I've already seen that one, Gaines.' "

Adams, 24, who was shifted to left defensive end for parts of Monday's morning practice, said he feels like he has been mediocre to this point. He concedes that "it's been very tough adapting to the speed of this game."

But as he becomes more diverse in his techniques and plays in preseason games, the feeling is that his development will accelerate. In the meantime, he is getting most of his snaps with the second team, and coaches aren't promising him anything.

"He'll get what he deserves," Gruden said.

During the past week, his practice involvement has been limited because of the effects of a strained triceps muscle that kept him out of practice two days.

That has made his introduction to camp difficult, too, though for other reasons.

"The other day he goes to the defensive line meeting room and he has Kevin Carter and Greg Spires and (Chris) Hovan waiting for him saying, 'What do you mean you're missing practice?' " Gruden recounted. "They're on him pretty good right now."

Adams believes his talent ultimately will remedy all his issues.

"I know how to play football," he said.

"If I can (read) my keys good things are going to happen. Being young, you're second-guessing yourself. You might know the play, but you don't want to make a mistake. It just comes with time and with repetition."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at (813) 226-3377 or