BRADENTON – Day Two of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers player-organized mini-camp saw a lot of tutoring for first-round pick Adrian Clayborn. The rookie defensive end from Iowa got a lot of instructions from second-year defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Due to the NFL lockout, Clayborn has not had the normal coaching that would come with OTAs (organized team activities) and mini-camps. As a result, McCoy is trying to give Clayborn a crash-course of knowledge and tips before the pads come on and the hitting starts at the beginning of training camp.
“I knew how crazy it was in OTAs and mini-camp when I came in to face the offensive line,” McCoy said. “I couldn’t have imagined just coming in and putting on pads and going against them. The reason why I came into camp and did so well and in the preseason was because I had OTAs and mini-camp and that kind of got me adjusted to the speed in football gear.”
While the Bucs are practicing there is a group of rookies also at IMG Academies for the player’s union sponsored rookie symposium. Clayborn decided to skip the rookie symposium in order to work out with his new teammates.
“I’m already two months behind. I know that stuff is important and I can hear it at some point, but with this lockout thing I want to get around my teammates as much as I can,” said Clayborn. “I didn’t think it would last this long, so hopefully it will be over soon.
“It is very frustrating. It is a business and that stuff has to get worked out, but I mean, I got a passion for the game and I just want to play it.”
Once the season starts Clayborn is expected to be the Buccaneers' starting right defensive end. That means he will have to have to quickly make the leap to going against NFL left tackles. At least Clayborn has an accomplished tutor to learn from and go against every day in practice.
“You are up against it because when you get into practice you are facing a Pro Bowler,” said McCoy. “Let’s be honest, Donald Penn did get to the Pro Bowl. If I were in the same position, I would have been facing a Pro Bowler. Davin Joseph was a Pro Bowler. I believe Jeff Faine is one of the best centers in the league.”
The 6-foot-3, 287-pound Clayborn has plans to learn a lot from Bucs franchise left tackle Penn when training camp arrives.
“No I haven’t talked to him much. I talked to him one time and he said he’s going to get me right, so hopefully he gets me right,” said Clayborn.
The Bucs' three technique defensive tackle McCoy has been driven this offseason and has reshaped his body while working on his technique and studying film. McCoy organized a week of workouts for the defensive linemen in San Diego and Clayborn was part of that group. Quickly, McCoy has taken to Clayborn to try and help the rookie make the jump to the NFL. During the Bucs practices at IMG, McCoy has been devoting a lot of one-on-one instruction to Clayborn.
“The reason I singled him out is that I had the opportunity to go through OTAs and mini-camp and get some extra coaching and actually work with a D-line coach,” McCoy said. “The stuff I learned early was the stuff you kind of have to pick up on your own and put your style of play to it. The basics are what I showed him. It’s kind of the stuff [former Bucs defensive tackle Warren] Sapp showed me last year. It’s the stuff people don’t realize they do coming out of college. I just wanted to help him with that.”
One of things that McCoy was passing on to Clayborn that was taught by Sapp last year was the number of steps to the quarterback. Sapp showed McCoy that he needed to get to the quarterback in less than five steps. McCoy spent some time on Wednesday to show Clayborn the same thing.
“It is all true. It isn’t easy to do but you have to practice on it,” said Clayborn. “We have mostly been working on pass rush stuff on how to get to the quarterback. Being quicker and different stuff that they need to work on from last year. They told me that so I can be a step ahead I guess.”
Last year, the Bucs struggled to stop the run at times and ranked 28th in run defense in the NFL. They also were last in the NFC in quarterback sacks with just 26. Tampa Bay is hopeful that new defensive line coaches Grady Stretz and Keith Millard will mold the Bucs' young defensive line into a dominant unit. As the three technique defensive tackle, McCoy is charged with being the leader to cause disruption for the offense.
In his rookie campaign, McCoy started 13 games before ending the season on injured reserve with a torn bicep against Washington last December. After a slow start, McCoy came on strong in the second half of the season. He recorded three sacks in two games against Baltimore and San Francisco. Against the 49ers, he had two half sacks, so one could say he had two multi-sack games back-to-back. For the season, McCoy recorded 43 tackles with six tackles for a loss, three sacks, 17 quarterback pressures, five passes batted down, and one forced fumble. Like Clayborn, McCoy’s offseason is damaged by not being able to work with his new coaches.
“This lockout is hurting everybody – mainly the rookies,” McCoy said. “The vets are fortunate enough to have played in the league. I only played in 12 games, but I played so many snaps. It’s like I played a full season. I have that advantage. But as rookies coming in, it’s going to be rough on them. That’s why I’ve been working with Clayborn so much and even brought him out to San Diego with me because I know he doesn’t have the advantages I had working with the coaches and going through the OTAs and stuff.”
The Buccaneers are counting on McCoy and Clayborn to help get their pass rush going. This year’s second-round pick, defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, and a 2010 second-round pick, defensive tackle Brian Price, are dealing with injuries and unknown timetables for when they will be able to start playing again.
Clayborn and McCoy’s ability to get to the quarterback and be disruptive to the opponent’s passing game led to them each being first-round picks. The Bucs envision Clayborn’s pressure from the outside forcing quarterbacks to step up in the pocket into McCoy, or McCoy’s pressure from up the middle forcing quarterbacks to move to the outside and Clayborn.
Throughout his collegiate career, Clayborn totaled 192 tackles with 37.5 tackles for a loss, 19 sacks, seven forced fumbles, eight passes patted down, and three blocked kicks. His best season came as a junior in 2009 when he totaled 70 tackles with 11.5 sacks, 20 tackles for a loss, and four forced fumbles. He also blocked a punt and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown against Penn State. As a senior, Clayborn’s numbers were down, yet he recorded 52 tackles with 3.5 sacks, seven tackles for a loss, one forced fumble, and one blocked kick.
The tutoring that Clayborn is getting from McCoy can only help Tampa Bay as they hope to make a post-season run in 2011.
“It is always good when you are around your teammates and learning their terminology,” said Clayborn. “I’ve been working all summer but is always good to get with your teammates and learn the scheme some.”~ by Charlie Campbell and Scott Reynolds
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