Tampa Bucs coach Greg Schiano says Gerald McCoy can be dominant

Published April 14, 2012


Of all the disappointing numbers posted by Bucs DT Gerald McCoy — 39 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles — 19 is the most damning. That's the number of games played in his first two seasons.

A torn biceps in each arm has derailed McCoy's expected ascension as an elite, young defensive lineman, selected No. 3 overall in 2010 — one pick after the Lions' Ndamukong Suh.

When the Bucs gather Tuesday for their first voluntary minicamp under new coach Greg Schiano, McCoy will be playing for his third defensive line coach in as many seasons.

Schiano believes McCoy, who is expected to be fully recovered and ready for offseason work, can be a "dominant force'' if he gets more plays.

"I'm excited to coach Gerald," he said. "He plays defensive tackle the way I like. He comes off the ball with a flat back, he's a penetrating guy who can change direction. We've got to get him back healthy and keep him healthy. I think he can be a dominant force if we can just get some miles underneath him, some plays."

Schiano could be right. A year ago, McCoy was becoming a player opponents had to account for during the Bucs' 4-2 start in 2011. Then a torn right biceps against the Saints ended his season.

McCoy, who signed a five-year, $63.2 million contract with $35 million guaranteed, showed signs of development before his latest injury. The Bucs were 4-2 with wins over Atlanta and New Orleans and never won another game after McCoy went on the disabled list.

That's not to suggest the loss of McCoy was the reason for the collapse. He's not the only defensive lineman to miss games. DT Brian Price, a second-rounder in 2010, has played only 20 games in two seasons, missing 11 as a rookie with pelvic and hamstring injuries.

DE Adrian Clayborn led the Bucs in sacks as a rookie last year with 7½ and played with consistent effort. DE Da'Quan Bowers, after easing his way back from knee surgery, showed flashes of becoming an effective pass rusher. The Bucs re-signed DE Michael Bennett and added Bears free agent DT Amobi Okoye.

New defensive line coach Randy Melvin has some pieces with pedigree to work with. But it all starts with making McCoy the dominating force that Schiano believes he can be.

FIRST IMPRESSION: The voluntary minicamp Tuesday through Thursday will be the first on-field look of players in the new systems under offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan.

"For our players, what you have to remember, everything is new," GM Mark Dominik said. "Whether you're Carl Nicks or Davin Joseph, everything you walk into is a new regime, a new thing. So does that make it better or worse for E.J. Biggers? I don't know. But at least it levels the playing field for Myron Lewis and E.J. Biggers and says, 'Let's find out what these guys can really do.' And if they can't do it, it is what it is."

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Expect a lot of eyeballs on MLB Mason Foster, who struggled in that role a year ago. Foster, a third-round pick from Washington, had no benefit of an offseason as a rookie because of the NFL lockout.

WONDER NOT: A lot has been made of the score of four out of 50 on the Wonderlic test by LSU CB Morris Claiborne, who could be a Bucs target with the No. 5 overall pick. Former Chiefs and Jets coach Herm Edwards said it's not a factor.

"You're not drafting a guy to be a substitute teacher," Edwards said. "You can't teach what Morris Claiborne has. He has talent. He can cover people. You can't coach that. Coaches coach technique. … You've got to figure out what kind of football player you want."