Tampa Bay rookie Erik Lorig takes pride in being a versatile player. Not only can he play defensive end, Lorig has switched positions and is practicing at tight end and fullback. Just call him a football player.
Don’t call him a defensive end anymore. Calling him a tight end might be doing him a disservice, too.
Do-everything rookie Erik Lorig would prefer to be called a football player.
One of the Bucs’ 2010 seventh-round picks, Lorig played both tight end and defensive end at Stanford. His first two years were spent on the offensive side of the ball where he caught three passes for 21 yards and did a lot of blocking. His final two seasons were on defense where he recorded six sacks, including 2.5 in his injury-shortened senior season.
“I’m just a football player, basically. That’s how I think about it,” Lorig said.
The Bucs have several young, promising defensive ends in Tim Crowder, Michael Bennett, Kyle Moore and practice squad player George Johnson. Lorig was not as productive at the defensive end position as those other players, so the coaching staff decided to tap into his experience as a tight end and a versatile football player on the offensive side of the ball and activate him from the practice squad to the active roster after the third week of the season.
“I’ve been over there a few weeks,” Lorig said of playing tight end. “I feel like I’ve gained a conceptual understanding and I got a playbook. They asked me to do, and if you can do it, you can do it. If you can’t, you can’t.
“Opportunity reveals itself anywhere and I feel like there is an opportunity here.”
Change and playing multiple positions is nothing new to Lorig, who was recruited as a two-position athlete to Stanford.
“I was definitely recruited as a double recruit out of high school,” Lorig said. “But in high school I was known to be a tight end. I used to watch NFL games in high school and I would watch the tight ends. I watched Dallas Clark a lot. He was a little bit different of a tight end and more of a receiving tight end.”
Although he has embraced the position change, which came with a jersey number change from 97 to 44, Lorig didn’t say that playing tight end was his favorite position.
“I don’t even think of having favorites,” Lorig said. “I really like to do it. Whatever they ask, I just try to do it. I saw it as an opportunity. When I was a full-time tight end for two years I was pretty much a true Y. They also had me do some fullback and some motion. I just basically did what they would ask a fullback to do at Stanford.
“My whole career I’ve played tight end, defensive end and outside linebacker. I did it in high school. I did it in college. Now I’m doing it here. It’s an opportunity for sure.”
Lorig said he would relish the opportunity to play both offense and defense in the same game, getting some snaps at tight end on offense and rushing the passer
“If I was honored to be asked to do that, absolutely,” Lorig said. “I would be excited to do that.”
But first Lorig must get active on game day, and for that to happen he must become well versed in the playbook after not taking many snaps on offense since his sophomore year at Stanford.
“As soon as possible,” Lorig said. “Whenever they feel like they need me and want me to do something. Not just knowing the words, but knowing what is going on.
“First and foremost, getting comfortable with [the offense]. When you know what you are doing, you are a better football player. That’s the biggest challenge. I’m just trying to get better every day.”
Lorig takes pride in being a versatile player with the ability to go out and play multiple positions. It’s that type of versatility that allowed him to be activated from the practice squad ahead of Ryan Purvis, a tight end who is in his second year on the practice squad.
“I’m kind of a hybrid,” Lorig said. “It’s how I was coming out of college. [Some teams] asked me to be an outside linebacker and do outside linebacker stuff to drop and pass rush. I feel like the same way translating to tight end – blocking, running the routes, flexibility and versatility.
“I’ve always just tried to go out there and think about being a football player.”
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