MOBILE, Ala. — The two things Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman hears about from critics are his lack of height and his pass coverage skills.
He's not getting any taller, but the draft prospect — 5 feet, 10.5 inches, officially — is eager to show he can drop back in coverage this week at the Senior Bowl. If the Bucs go in a new direction at middle linebacker, Perryman could be there when they pick in the second round at No. 34 overall.
"One thing I get knocked on a lot is my pass coverage," said Perryman, a heavy hitter who started 37 games with the Hurricanes, topping 100 tackles in each of the last two years. "This week I'm going to make sure I can display my ability in that and just get better."
Perryman had only two interceptions at Miami, but said just because the defense didn't call for him to drop back and cover the middle of the field — as middle linebackers often do in Bucs coach Lovie Smith's defense — doesn't mean he can't do it.
As for his height, Perryman said it's a motivation. He saw Wisconsin's Chris Borland shine as a 5-11 rookie this fall, getting 107 tackles for the 49ers.
"I get knocked for my height, but I play big. That's one of my chips on my shoulder," he said. "I've been getting knocked for my height since I was in high school. Every day, I play with a chip on my shoulder."
Derrick Brooks was listed at 6-0 in his Hall of Fame career, and a certain Bucs linebacker that Perryman admires is listed at 6-1.
"Lavonte David, he's not all that tall," Perryman says with a respectful smile.
Perryman was held out of Wednesday's second practice of the week with an abdominal injury, but is expected back today. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, whose staff is coaching the South team, said Perryman has made a strong impression.
"He stands out, just in his ability to pick things up. You can sense his leadership, right when he steps on the field," said Bradley, who got his start in the NFL as the Bucs' linebackers coach from 2006-08. "He's got a presence about him."
Perryman wants to show he can be a three-down linebacker in the NFL, capable of staying on the field when defenses shift to nickel defenses with only two linebackers on the field and a high chance of a pass play. He worked closely with the Jaguars and was scheduled for interviews with the Bucs and Dolphins, and he likes the thought of staying home in Florida — he's from Coral Gables.
"I would love it, just to stay in Florida, period, but I don't choose where I go," he said. "Wherever I go, I'm going to be the best player I can be."
Contact Greg Auman at email@example.com and at (813) 226-3346. Follow @gregauman.