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April 20, 2012 @ 8:14 am
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/2 Votes

Okoye Has A Chance To Shine As McCoy And Price Have Disappointed

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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Time is running out for both Gerald McCoy and Brian Price as injuries have caused both players to end their first two seasons on injured reserve. That's why the Bucs signed DT Amobi Okoye, who is looking for an opportunity in Tampa Bay to live up to his draft billing as a former first-round pick.
Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik was asked to evaluate the disappointment of team’s the 2010 draft class on Tuesday, and it was noted that defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, who were selected with first- and second-round picks that year, have both seen their first two NFL seasons end prematurely on injured reserve. Dominik and Tampa Bay’s front office doesn’t have a true feel on either player as a result, and is unsure if they are part of the long-term picture with the Buccaneers or if injuries will continue to prevent them from reaching their potential.

“We don't have much more time, nor do the players,” Dominik said. “They have they two years remaining on their contract, except for Gerald who has three. The reality is it's disappointing that our defensive tackles have been hurt. It's extremely disappointing, and they're frustrated and disappointed as well. I still have hope, but here's only so much time left. I know we have a lot of them out there, but I'll be my harshest critic to look at that class and see what they do.”

The uncertainty surrounding McCoy and Price is exactly why Dominik signed defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, who was Houston’s first-round pick in 2007, to a one-year deal worth $2 million this offseason. Okoye sees the opportunity to come in and make an impact at the three-technique tackle and either push McCoy to greatness or push him to the bench.

“As you see I am already blending real good with the guys,” Okoye said. “I have known Gerald since last year, and when I had the opportunity and I signed here I definitely reached out to him. I am glad to be here. I had a great year with Chicago and four with Houston. I’ve had a solid career so far. It is just now about getting over and being a Pro Bowl defensive tackle that everybody and every player wants to be. So I think I have that opportunity and I know I have that opportunity here in Tampa. I am just here to win.”

Okoye has played in 78 games with 59 starts, recording 165 tackles, 15 sacks, five passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. In 2011, Okoye recorded four sacks, 27 tackles and two tackles for loss despite starting just one game.

“I started like one game in Chicago, but I played about 50 percent [of the snaps on defense],” Okoye said, noting that he had the second-most snaps along the defensive line even though he was a reserve. “It was the second most as far as defensive tackles go. So whatever it is they ask me to do here I am going to do that plus more. So that’s the goal – to do that plus more.  See wherever that goes from there. “

Okoye begins his Bucs career as a backup to McCoy, but knows that he will be heavily involved in Tampa Bay’s defensive line rotation.

“Definitely in this league and college, and even high school, in my opinion I think it is good to have that rotation,” Okoye said. “You know I mean a lot is required for a big man as a D-lineman in the movement and he might get gassed easily. So it is very good to keep that rotation going and just getting guys getting after the quarterback. Getting after the running backs and disrupting and getting in the backfield.”

Okoye was sold on landing in Tampa Bay after meeting with defensive-minded head coach Greg Schiano, who said he wants the young defensive tackle to finally live up to his first-round draft billing and become a dominant, impact player.

“It was a good, just a man-to-man conversation,” Okoye said. “It was just about life and about growing. So that’s pretty much how it went was just get here and get better.”

Okoye said that the old-school, college-style of coaching that Schiano, who spent the last 11 years at Rutgers, employs did catch him off guard on the first day of mini-camp.

“It was definitely shocking,” Okoye said. “Definitely shocking, but kind of cool. I hate to bring this up, but kind brings up a little bit of memories from [Bobby] Petrino back in college [at Louisville]. Before I signed here we spoke and he talked about that game in my senior season where they messed it up for me. [Schiano] kept on talking about how they couldn’t block me, but I was like, ‘Coach, you guys won and messed up my season. So don’t try to sugarcoat it to make me feel good.’ But I’m looking forward to it.”

The fact that Okoye is the most veteran defensive tackle on the team, yet is only 24 years old is one of the appealing aspects of him to the Buccaneers. For Okoye, the appeal is to join a team on the rise that is full of young talent and compete for a starting job.

“Win games – definitely to win games,” Okoye said. “It is a very young team and it is probably the first thing about being where I am. I am considered one of the older guys. In Houston, the last two years of my career we were kind of younger, but we still had some older guys. So now it is just about me using some of the things I have learned in the past and just helping guys out. At the same time, bettering myself to become that player I just talked about being. So I am just looking forward to that Super Bowl season.”

Last modified on Friday, 20 April 2012 08:37

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  • avatar

    This was a good sign hopefully his best yrs are ahead of him
  • avatar

    This is it for both of these players... when they are healthy, they are good. Bucs beat Atlanta and Saints last year & they weren't fluke wins. But if they can not stay healthy then they are worthless to us. We need to go back and address this position, again. Missing on top picks will set your team back by years. And that is what I am afraid will happen.
  • avatar

    The central issue holding the Bucs back, beside the Glazers penny pinching most of the time since Man U, is our personnel department. Dom is the rotting fish head at the top of the org, let's hope the Glazers make a clean sweep of that dept following the upcoming losing season (it is what it is, and it won't be Schi's fault, too many changes, too thin on talent, too difficult a schedule). Take advantage of it to eject Dom and everyone associated with personnel decisions, or faulty drafting will keep us in the South cellar.
  • avatar

    Price did the best he could playing while injured and looked good when he was healthy. His injury was not fully disclosed when he was drafted. McCoy was touted by most scouts as the best player in the Draft after Suh, and in my opinion has been given a free ride by this publication. He has never performed at a level that deserves a starter's status. his pass rushing skills are questionable, and maybe I am blind but it seems opposing teams like to run at him.
  • avatar

    Really wish Pewter Report would stop saying Brian Price ended both seasons on IR, because it's simply not true. He played in every game but one last year, and he did play the last game in Atlanta. Therefore, he didn't go on IR. I realize he was nowhere near 100% and we was seen limping off the field far too many times, but you still get the facts straight.
  • avatar

    @panzer....now that's funny!! Stupid...real stupid...but funny!
  • avatar

    “We don't have much more time, nor do the players.” "I still have hope, but here's only so much time left." GM-speak translation: We now know they are probably busts, get the fans ready for it, replace them as soon as possible, likely 2013 Draft.
  • avatar

    Martinii: Thank you for the perspective on fans expecting immediate stardom for certain players whose promising start have been derailed by injury, not by lack of talent or poor attitude. There is no doubt that both McCoy and Price have the physical presence and work ethic to succeed. Hopefully they can stay out of the infirmary to prove it. As John McKay said, "You can't make the club in the tub." For some to automatically think that the still youthful Okoye, who to this point, has failed to live up to his own lofty expectations and already begun the "journeyman journey" by being on his third team, is going to somehow leapfrog #93 rather than be a good rotation player is a little presumptuous. From what I've observed, both McCoy and Price were dominant before injuries felled them. That said, if the injury bug continues to rest on the nose of our starting DT tandem, Dominik will have no choice but to "go in another direction." So far we've been heading south.
  • avatar

    From the way I understand it....McCoy's injury is supposed to be better after it heals than what it was before the injuries. His case is more genetic than him just plain tearing the biceps. The condition was missed by all the NFL teams and physicals. Hope he can elevate his game and stay on the field. Price is a beast and I think an 80% Price is as good as anyone else we have to play in his rotation. Depending on how the draft rolls out we may still take a DT if the value is there....probably 5th or 6th....there are actually a few that are flying under the radar. They are being over shadowed by the plethora of CBs and RBs, IMO.
  • avatar

    Anybody thats ever sprained or broken anything knows once you do, that body part is always goin to be easier to happen again. I dont want to be the bad guy but McCoy has screwed up his arms. As for Price, his injury was the first of its kind ever known in the NFL. I trully think we just have bad luck those guys and they will be cut after this season..
  • avatar

    Sorry doctor, but a torn bicep is not a broken or sprained arm. I think you ought to try to get your money back from the on-line medical school.
  • avatar

    Price played great last year...he is an animal...McCoy will learn not to use the technique that has torn his biceps last two seasons...he also can be great...now we have solid rotation on the line!
  • avatar

    I'm Sorry but I think Price has been pretty good when you take in account his injury. Last year he was the best D Lineman against the Run and took on 2 lineman every play and that was at only 80 to 85%. He was being talked about being better than McCoy before the injury. he will be just fine at 100%.
  • avatar

    I dont think price or mccoy will be able to go a whole season~okoye will take one of these guys place by week 4..
  • avatar

    I am keeping my figure crossed that McCoy and Price can stay healthy and actually perform to their regular expectations when they were drafted so high. We have basically the same scouting people; if we are successful with a better performance from this years draft selection we can look no further than Raheem Morris for the blame and the scouts get a pass. If the 2009, 2010,2011 are underachievers for most part again then we can also look at Dominik and the scouts. Regardless Schiano gets a pass for a year unless we go 3-13 or worse.
  • avatar

    I think you are right about Schiano getting a "free" year. There is no way to completely fix this organization in the short term. If we win 6 games this year and finish strong, that would be good progress.
  • avatar

    Madman,Price was known to have an injury. The severity turned out to be the shocker.
  • avatar

    Wonder if Dom, or anyone, knew about Price's injury before the draft.
  • avatar

    I love this guy. My two favorite things about him in college were his burst and his intelligence. I think he, McCoy and Price are all intelligent and I look forward to seeing them all work together this season.
  • avatar

    Okoye should be a great addition to our D-line. The nice thing about him is that he has much of his career ahead of him. An observation about McCoy, Price, and Bowers. These were great value picks and potential starters. They all three still are. Injuries have a way of undermining GM's however, in a world where the media and fans must have instant gradification. Injuries often are seen as the measure of a players worth. I beleive we need to assess our very young defensive line for one more year of a three year grading system for draft choices before we throw stones. This may be the year when they all put it together, stay healthy, and really kick some "*censored*" Go Bucs........
  • avatar

    Okoye will be good backup but if McCoy stays healthy he will be the starter.
  • avatar

    I am all for the competition. I don't care who wins, just that whoever does win is actually a very good (to great) player. We need a line that gets 40-50 sacks this year, not in the 20's like last year etc.
  • avatar

    Move over McCoy this man is going to take your job!
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