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August 15, 2011 @ 1:31 pm
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Buccaneers Banged Up At Nose Tackle

Written by Scott
Reynolds
Scott Reynolds

Scott
Reynolds

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Although starting DT Gerald McCoy is expected to get his first preseason action on Thursday, the Bucs are thinned at nose tackle due to injury with Roy Miller out and Brian Price questionable for the Patriots game. Frank Okam and Al Woods will see increased playing time.

On Monday, Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris said that second-year defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who has been one of the stars on defense for the Buccaneers in training camp, will see his first preseason action at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday when the New England Patriots come to town. For McCoy, who missed Tampa Bay’s shutout 25-0 win at Kansas City on Friday due to a sore rotator cuff injury, it will be his first game back since tearing his biceps muscle at Washington on December 12.

That injury caused McCoy to be placed on injured reserve just after he started getting to the quarterback. The Bucs’ 2010 first-round draft pick recorded all three of his sacks in San Francisco and Baltimore – just weeks prior to his biceps tear. With his biceps tear fully rehabbed and his rotator cuff strain on the mend, Morris talked about playing time for McCoy and Brian Price.

“I know McCoy will play for sure, “Morris said. “He is a certain guy. [Brian] Price, is still up in the air. I still want to see him in practice and move around in pads. What he does in individuals today will be a big part of that [decision].”

While McCoy will be starting on Thursday, Morris said that starting nose tackle Roy Miller would be out against the Patriots after banging up his knee in the first quarter against the Chiefs. Miller’s injury is not believed to be serious.

“Roy [Miller] is day-to-day, with a knee ding,” Morris said. “He will be out this week for sure. I can almost guarantee you I wont play him with a knee ding.”

The Bucs are thin right now at nose tackle with injuries to Miller and Price, who is in his second year after spending most of his rookie season on injured reserve after undergoing radical pelvic-hamstring surgery. Price, who will likely miss Thursday’s game against New England, has been practicing with the team, although he is out of shape and about a month away from where he wants to be conditioning-wise.


“Brian Price will go through individuals then we will see where we are for practice,” Morris said. “He is one of those guys we have to keep monitoring and keep watching to get him ready. He is about a month away from where he wants to be. According to the schedule of the first one. He got those hamstrings ripped off the bone one at a time. The first one took about nine months to heal and this one about seven. So hopefully we can get him going in the right direction. You want to make him ready, to force him to be ready but unfortunately that’s not the case with the hamstring and healing process.”

The absence of Miller and Price will mean extended playing time for Al Woods, who had a team-leading three tackles at Kansas City on Friday, and possibly seeing Frank Okam, who is McCoy’s backup at the three-technique position, playing some nose tackle. The big, 360-pound defensive tackle, who was signed by the Bucs late last season and contributed 15 tackles, two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery while starting in place of the injured McCoy last year, drew praise from Morris on Monday.

“I don’t think Frank Okam came to camp worried about people being dinged up,” Morris said. “Frank Okam came to camp with a mission. He is a big physical man. Last year he had a big breakout game making tackles. He’s been moving bodies. He’s different than what we have ever seen in Tampa.”

Morris raved about Okam’s unique size-speed ratio and how that helps him defeat the attempts of offensive linemen.

“He is kind of, I don’t even know what his technique is. It’s just, ‘Get out of the way.’ It works for him. I like it. He is certainly in the mix to play. He’s 350 [pounds] maybe [laughs] He’s just a big man. He doesn’t get tired. He just one of those guys you just say,’ Is he out of shape?’ Then you look at him and say, ‘Oh no, he just looks like a refrigerator.’ There is no stomach. He’s not fat, he’s just big.”

 

Mark Cook contributed to this reported to this report.

Last modified on Monday, 15 August 2011 13:47
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  • avatar

    lets go bucs!!! i got my season tickets, sound the CANNONS!!! SEC 148 ROW R!!!
  • avatar

    I agree with many of you: Okam might just end up starting next McCoy. As far as Price, most expected him on the PUP anyway, so if he provides anything the first month of the season it is a bonus
  • avatar

    I was a little surprised they had Price doing as much work in camp as he's doing. It sounded like he was still several weeks, if not months away from being able to play. He could be headed for the PUP list. They would have to decide by the 6th week to activate him or put him on IR. Although it might just be a matter of conditioning and he may be ready for the season in a few weeks. I'll stay optimistic.
  • avatar


    Okam "The Freezer" cause he is as big as one and just chills out the running backs!
  • avatar


    I still think Price will be put on the PUP list. As I recall, that makes him eligible to return after the 6th game.
  • avatar

    Okam might just mess around and take millers spot eventually on the line. Hes so big but an athletic freak at the sametime. Price needs to try and get back asap because if not Okam might be the DT of the future next to mccoy.
  • avatar


    Starting to worry about Price as well.. Hoping for the best. GO BUCS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Great job in KC...
  • avatar

    Knowing that a lot of smack comes from the coaching staff I'm starting to think Price is (near) history. Crazy injury. Even crazier repair procedure. Out of shape and still not doing much ... glad we're givjng him a fair chance, but so far it's been all talk. Can't imagine anything good coming for him this year.
  • avatar


    Keep an eye on EJ Wilson - the kid lived in the backfield last week. Everybody will be ok, a coupla dings, no big deals. Price - another story!!
  • avatar

    Good article.
  • avatar


    I am glad Coach is being very careful with Price's injury. McCoy needs the reps and I hope he plays at least a quarter or more. We're going to see quickly if losing that weight was helpful or not. I hoping for the best here. I don't see how we keep Okam and Woods off this team. Both of these guys can play in the NFL. What's the story with Talib? He needs reps too. Even though it is a pre-season game, the Patriots can eat us up quickly and spit us out like nothing if we aren't focused. I am hoping that we do not have any key injuries. I looked to see more of Carpenter and the rookie QB in this game since we know what the two Josh's can do. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Okam is by far the most flexible big man Ive ever seen. Watching him during the stretching period of training camp was jaw dropping. To witness a 6'5 360+ pound beast lay on his back and pull his feet over his head is incredible. With his combination of massive size and athleticism, I am so excited to see how he preforms and excels in this defense. This really will be the Tampa 2.0 with the front 4 back to the penetration and our back 7 flying around with the speed of our past champs. Love this ish!!
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