Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price have their sights set on being the best interior duo in Tampa Bay. The two roommates had their first practice together, and Price set the bar high as far as what they can be in the next five years.
"We have the chance to be the best tandem in the league," said Price. "That's what I want to work for is to be the best. I'm sure he wants to be the best, so we may as well be the best together. Tampa loves defense, so we may as well have the number one defense."
McCoy was the third-overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, and Price was the Bucs' choice with the 35th overall pick. The two grew up far apart from each other with McCoy residing in Oklahoma City, and Price in Los Angeles. Price grew up in South Central Los Angeles, and had tragedy strike his family. Two of Price's older brothers were murdered. One was shot defending a woman who was being attacked, and another was shot by a close friend in a dispute.
"My brothers always wanted me to play," said Price. "I was always too big to play when I was younger. When I was about to play my oldest brother got killed. I had just started ninth grade and playing football. I owe a lot to my parents and God, just being raised in church. Just seeing what happened to my brothers and what happened to my friends, and seeing people killed in my front yard and back yard. My mom always told me to be careful. I always told her being careful is living in fear, and I don't want to live in fear. I'd rather be wise and make wise decisions. My parents were there to guide me through and help me become the man I am today."
After starring high school Price was a prized recruit for UCLA. While he stayed in town, for Price it was similar to leaving the state to go to college when he left South Central for Westwood.
"In a two week span 30 people got killed at the corner where my brother got killed at," said Price. "It was like growing up there opened your eyes to a lot, and we were so marginalized there. A lot of people from there don't get out. I had never been to Westwood before I went to UCLA. It was like a whole new world to me coming from South Central, but it made me who I am today. I love South Central and I'll always go back."
Price, 21, has six sisters back home. While he gets to know a new town in Tampa, he'll have a new friend to do it with in McCoy.
"They got us roomed together in the hotel, we talk a little bit," said McCoy. "We do drills together when we warm up. We're just trying to back each other – two rookies coming in trying to make some noise in Tampa Bay."
Price and McCoy are focused on their NFL careers and leading the Buccaneers back to having a suffocating defense. If the pair can duplicate their college production they will form quite a tandem in the pros.
The 6-foot-1, 303-pound Price broke into the lineup for the Bruins as a true freshman during the 2007 season and finished that year with a bang. As a sophomore he had 4.5 sacks with 14 tackles for a loss and 35 tackles. In 2009, Price had seven sacks, 23.5 tackles for a loss, 48 tackles, and two forced fumbles.
Price was third in the nation in tackles for a loss in 2009. He decided to forego his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. Price finished his collegiate career with 97 tackles, one interception, five forced fumbles, 44.5 tackles for a loss, and 12.5 sacks.
McCoy (6-4, 295) had 14.5 sacks in his career with Oklahoma. He totaled 83 tackles, 33 tackles for a loss, four passes broken up, two forced fumbles and one interception in his career. McCoy ended last season with 34 tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss, two passes batted away, and one forced fumble.
As a sophomore, McCoy had a career-high 6.5 sacks with 30 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, two passes batted away and one interception. McCoy was also a two-year team captain at Oklahoma. He quickly stepped up as a leader during the Bucs' Friday practice.
"Yeah, that's just me," said McCoy. "I told people that once I step across these white lines, that's something different. I start to open up more, not that I'm a shy guy or quiet or anything, but you know that's just where I live."
Buccaneers head coach and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris is excited about he saw from his rookies in day one.
"It's always hard to grade those guys in shorts and underwear when they're out there running around but you know they did a great job with what they were asked to do," said Morris. "All-access camp, we got you guys walking around, so you guys got the chance to get a good look at them as well. They're impressive guys in drills once you go to the team you can grade these guys and give them a lot of credit for what they're doing. Still, the real thing for these guys is how they turn when the pads go on. What you see today definitely makes you excited about both of those guys. "
WILLIAMS IMPRESSES BEFORE EARLY EXIT
Bucs wide receiver Mike Williams was having an impressive practice before calf cramps forced the fourth-round pick to leave practice early. Morris liked what he saw from Syracuse product during his first practice as a Buccaneer.
"He caught some balls, caught some extra balls and so to speak," said Morris. "He's big, he's fast he did a nice job of finishing today you know he took a couple short passes and ran them all to the end-zone, that's probably why he cramped up at the end. But that's good, you've got to train your body, and that's part of coming out down here to the Buccaneers rookie mini training camp and he'll learn, he'll get better and his body will develop and hopefully he'll adapt his environment."QUOTE OF THE DAY
Morris talked about his conflict of interest during scrimmage sessions in practice. While Morris is the head coach he is also the defensive coordinator, and he is cheering for both sides of the ball on a given play.
"I actually get to write scripts down," said Morris. "I was kind of joking with those guys coming out today, I said ‘cause I was a lot more competitive when I was the positions coach'. When I was the positions coach I wanted to go out there and beat coach Gruden every day. Like I was cheering for Mike Williams today, I was like ‘beat those guys,' I guess that's the biggest difference, but it's still fun you know. You write the scripts, you put it on there. And this camp is not about scheming against each other it's more or less just getting your base stuff out there, letting those guys go play, see who can play football. Give them the option. You want to get them to play as fast as you can."
QUOTE OF THE DAY II
Try-out quarterback Matt Grothe from South Florida was extremely emotional and choking back tears when discussing the comeback from his season ending injury and trying to make it to training camp with the Buccaneers.
"Busting my butt, I'm trying," said Grothe. "Last eight months has been a big struggle for me ... something I've missed, something I'll never forget ... hard work paid off at USF ... I love football, this is not the end ... if it this doesn't work out, I want to coach."Kelli Haemmelmann contributed to this report.
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