Outspoken Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was all smiles as he reported for training camp at One Buc Place on Thursday. Down to a chiseled 296 pounds, McCoy is in great shape and is more comfortable heading into his second NFL season.
Buccaneers second-year defensive tackle Gerald McCoy knows how to command a stage. The former Sooner spent 15 minutes after checking into One Buc Place Thursday morning entertaining various members of the media with jokes, smiles, and stories. He also clowned around by interviewing and taking pictures of his Tampa Bay teammates as they met with the media.
But make no mistake, McCoy is deadly serious about his second season in the NFL and worked extremely hard in the offseason to get his body in optimum condition.
“The main thing I did in San Diego working out was get in better shape,” McCoy said. “I left here and I was 310 pounds with 22 percent body fat. When I weighed-in yesterday, I was 296 pounds with 16 percent body fat. So I kind of worked out a little bit this offseason and got in better shape. So I’m better prepared. I also grew up mentally compared to my rookie year.”
McCoy’s rookie season wasn’t what he envisioned, marred by inconsistent play and mental mistakes. He didn’t record his first NFL sack until Week 11 at San Francisco, and finished his rookie campaign with just three sacks. And just the game started to slow down for him, McCoy wound up on injured reserve with a torn biceps on December 12 at Washington.
“There was a lot of confusion at the beginning of the year last season in my assignments, and what I was supposed to do,” McCoy said. “I got moved around a lot, but once I just relaxed and played ball, I came into my own. It all came along.”
Being more comfortable will allow the 296-pounder to focus on just football as opposed to the distractions and expectations he faced much of the 2010 season.
“This year, just being in the building, I feel more relaxed. I feel like I’m at home as opposed to last year,” McCoy said. “Last year, I felt uncomfortable. I knew it was my team, but this year I just feel like it’s my family. I can just walk around say, ‘What’s up?’ to anybody. It feels like I have been here 10 years.”
McCoy is excited by the defensive players the Buccaneers drafted in first-rounder Adrian Clayborn and second-rounder Da’Quan Bowers, both of whom are expected to start at defensive end. With a healthier Brian Price lining up at defensive tackle next to McCoy, the Buccaneers could potentially have a complete first- and second-year starting defensive front four.
Getting the young players up to speed will be an obstacle due to the 132-day NFL lockout, which cancelled all OTAs (organized team activities) and mini-camps, but McCoy feels his new rookie teammates will up for the challenge.
“They don’t have a lot of time, but the thing is our coaches wouldn’t have drafted them if they didn’t feel like they could pick it up fast,” McCoy said. “They knew when they drafted those guys they would have limited time to get them ready. So they drafted them knowing that. So I have 100 percent confidence they will pick it up just in time to get it going.”
The leaner improved McCoy knows the Buccaneers won’t be sneaking up on any teams this year after last year’s surprise 10-6 season, which surpassed all expectations outside One Buc Place. That doesn’t frighten him however, and the Oklahoma product thinks the team will continue to show progress and improve.
“We will embrace it (having a target on their chest). We love a challenge,” McCoy said. “I’ve talked to our head coach enough to know he loves a challenge. Everybody wants to say it was a fluke season. The  schedule is a lot harder. We just hear what our coach says, what our G.M. says, what our owners say. What we do on the field is do what we have to (to be successful).”– Scott Reynolds contributed to this report
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