After suffering a right shoulder injury during Friday's training camp practice, Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was back out on the field on Saturday morning, participating in the team's walk through. As soon as the walk through concluded, McCoy shrugged off any concerns about his shoulder and let his participation in the team's practice speak for how his injury is progressing.
"I was out there playing," McCoy said.
Bucs head coach Raheem Morris was encouraged with what he saw from McCoy and will evaluate his progress on a daily basis.
"He's day-to-day," Morris said. "He went this morning, but probably won't go tonight. He's practice-to-practice, day-to-day, however you want to look at it. We'll check on him and see what's going on, but I'm really comfortable where we are as far as injuries right now."
McCoy figures to be able to play in the team's first preseason game at Kansas City on Friday and wanted to take any attention off of his shoulder.
"Yeah, I'll be alright," said McCoy.
Instead of focusing on his minor ailment, the third-overall pick in the 2010 draft is focused on establishing a new defensive identity for the Bucs.
"I'm extremely [exciting about this defense]," said McCoy. "I don't think our defense has an identity yet. They had one, but I think we are getting it back. We definitely plan to get it back this year."
The 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive tackle finished out the 2010 season with 43 tackles, six for a loss, three sacks and one forced fumble before tearing his biceps against the Washington Redskins and spending the last three games of the season on Injured Reserve. McCoy started off his rookie season slowly, but was starting to become a force in the middle at the time of his injury. Now that the second-year pro has one season under his belt, he is starting to think less and the game is becoming more instinctive for him.
"I've never been one to just pick stuff up right away," said McCoy. "It takes me time to pick it up but once I've got it, I've got it. I've figured out how the game moves, how it works, things I need to know for my position and how to play my position. I don't do much thinking anymore. I see formations, backfield sets, splits, and I play off that. Once my hand goes in the dirt there's no more thinking, I just go. Now I've just got to perfect it. [Warren] Sapp did the same thing. He had to learn how to play his position and once he did he perfected it. I'm working how to perfect to play the under tackle."
McCoy has already noticed a big difference in the progress he's made since his rookie season. Pass rushing coach Keith Millard will also allow the former Sooner to play more freely and do what he does best, which is getting after the quarterback.
"If you've seen practice, I'm in the backfield a lot because if I'm on a guy and he over reads, I don't have to worry about it," said McCoy. "Last year I was like, 'Oh my gosh I have to get to my gap.' This year I'm like, 'Screw it, if I'm in the backfield they are going to have to decide to do something.' That's disruption. Now I'm playing more free and I'm just like, 'Go hit something.'"
The Bucs coaching staff is expecting big things out of McCoy this season and added draft picks Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers in hopes of helping out the team's pass rush that generated only 26 sacks in 2010. McCoy knows the challenges the rookies will have to deal in their first year and is working to get the defensive ends up to speed on the defense. The Sooner product doesn't think they will have the same learning curve that he faced his rookie season.
"Those guys coming out of college still have sort of a college mindset a little like I did," said McCoy. "They are starting to see that this is a different game. It moves different and you can't do the same things that you did in college at this level. They kind of got a taste of it earlier in camp because our starting offensive line wasn't here. Now that our whole offensive line is back, they can see it really is different. By them looking at me and how I attack the game at full speed [will help their game]. Going through the season helps, but some people pick it up. I think those two guys are guys that can pick it up right away."