A youth movement has been in effect for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for over a year now. The team is full of young, promising players ready to get their feet wet and help this team do better than a 3-13 record in 2010.
The starting quarterback is 22-year-old Josh Freeman who has only started nine games in his career. There are two rookie wide receivers, Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn, in a battle to earn significant playing time this season. But one group that really shows its inexperience and youth is the defensive line.
Right now, the average age of the Buccaneers' defensive line is just a tad over 24 years old. The only two guys not in their 20s are starting right defensive end Stylez G. White (30) and defensive tackle Ryan Sims (30), who is fighting for a roster spot. The Bucs have a bunch of raw, developing talent along the defensive line that will become the bright spot of this team for many years to come.
Second year defensive end Kyle Moore has realized just how youthful the guys around him are.
"There are a lot of young guys on that D-line with me, Roy (Miller), and (Gerald) McCoy," said Moore. "I'm 23. Both of them are 22. Stylez (White) might be the oldest one. He is about 35. It's a young class. Michael Bennett is only about 24 so there are a lot of young guys along the D-line."
Moore, a fourth-round pick out of USC in 2009, has dropped about 20 pounds this offseason to get in better shape and the results have led to him getting starter reps at the left end spot. Moore knows that he is in competition though and is doing everything he can to impress his coaches.
"I'm just going to go out there and practice," said Moore. "Show the coaches that I should be out there, make them trust me and give them a lot of confidence in me that I can go out there and perform."
Moore's rookie campaign got off to a rough start. After being asked to bulk up for former defensive coordinator Jim Bates' system, he tore the meniscus in his knee and missed the first half of the season. Moore admits last year was hard at times, but this offseason he has found a comfort level and is keeping up well when it comes to getting Coach Morris' playbook down.
"It was really easy for me," said Moore. "Pretty much the defense we are running is the defense we ran at USC, just different terminology, but same principles. It has helped me a lot because that is what I was used to it college. The transition for me is not hard at all. Last year's defense was a little difficult, but we had to do it."
Even with the easy transition for Moore, he knows how important it is for everyone on the defensive side to be on the same page. This offseason he feels like the defense is beginning to unify well and that they are laying the framework to have a successful season.
"That defensive chemistry [is what it is about]," said Moore. "Once we get that chemistry and everybody knows what we are doing it is going to be a good year coming up."
One of the reasons Moore feels like the defense is getting up to speed is because this offseason has a new feel to it from that of last year.
"[What's different] is the practicing, the sharpness of our guys, especially the defense," said Moore. "The defense is really clicking right now. The linebackers are getting the calls down to us. We are picking up our coverages the right way. We aren't having a lot of busts on the defense right now so it is going pretty good."
First round pick Gerald McCoy is one of those players that is helping the defense come together this offseason. Moore has seen McCoy's physical tools and explosiveness up close and personal this offseason and he sees how much the rookie defensive tackle well help the team.
"It's going to be a whole lot [easier] because McCoy likes to get up field," said Moore. "We know what to do. We pretty much rush off him so it's going to help a lot with him and (Brian) Price."