TAMPA — On Ndamukong Suh’s first day as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, he made it clear. He’s not here to replace Gerald McCoy.
While there’s a natural connection between the two, dating to their place as defensive tackles selected with the second and third picks in the 2010 draft, and given Suh’s May 23 arrival following McCoy’s May 20 departure.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians hopes Suh can bring a unique edge to a young Bucs defense, and that’s something Suh believes he can deploy. But Suh said Friday he’s not going to try to fill the void left by McCoy.
“I’m definitely not taking Gerald’s spot,” Suh said. “Gerald’s set in stone at this franchise for many, many years. Very successful, played at a very high level. I’ve got a great relationship with him. The last time we actually spoke was at the Super Bowl (last season), with him wishing me the best luck. Our relationship is good as far as I know from the last time we’ve spoken. I wish him all the best in his endeavors. I’m not here to replace him. I’m here to kind of make my own path alongside this team and be a shining emblem of some sort to help get to a winning, successful situation.”
Suh is hoping, however, to wear No. 93 with the Bucs, the same jersey number that McCoy wore during his nine-year career in Tampa Bay. The Bucs have only retired the numbers of their Hall of Famers — Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks — but the numbers of several cornerstone players haven’t been issued out of respect.
Back in April, first-round pick Devin White initially wanted to wear No. 40, which hasn’t been issued since Mike Alstott’s retirement, but later opted to wear No. 45.
Suh wore No. 93 last year with the Rams, the previous three seasons with the Dolphins and during his career at the University of Nebraska. He wore No. 90 in his first five pro seasons with the Lions. Injured outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul currently wears No. 90.
“Hopefully 93,” Suh said Friday when asked what number he wanted to wear with the Bucs. “It’s what I’ve been wearing the past in few years ever since I left Detroit and my days at 90. I don’t look forward to taking JPP’s spot, so that’s how I look at it.”
That Suh’s old number just happens to be McCoy’s is coincidence, but it surely continues the link between the two, even if not intentional.
Arians said Suh will be in uniform Tuesday when the Bucs open their three-day mandatory minicamp.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.