After suffering his second biceps tear in as many years, Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy reports that he is 100 percent, just seven months after the latest injury. McCoy also talked about new Buccaneers Eric LeGrand, and his friend and teammate Brian Price, who has been struggling with a personal tragedy.
Former Tampa Bay first-round and the third overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Gerald McCoy, suffered his second biceps tear in as many years last November against New Orleans and was placed on injured reserve for the second time in his young NFL career. Seven months later, the former Sooner has declared himself ready to go.
“I am good,” McCoy said. “Recovery went well and I am ready to go. Yes, I am a 100 percent. I am ready to go.”
Since that afternoon at the Louisiana Superdome last year, McCoy, who has been an active participant in the OTAs (organized team activities) has witnessed a complete remolding of the Buccaneers.
“This is a great offseason for us because you get to learn how to be a true professional with all the things we are going through with coaching changes, system changes, players coming in and players going out,” McCoy said. “Faces we were used to are not here anymore. You get to learn how to be a true professional and it has been fun. It is a fun experience.
“Everything is going great. Everything is running smoothly. I won’t say we have hit any road blocks because we have not. Everything is running smoothly, but change is not easy. So with us, learning new stuff everybody is just adjusting to the change.”
McCoy, who will be entering his third season in the league, has been limited to just 19 total games over his first two seasons (while collecting just 29 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles), and said not being able to contribute has been difficult.
“I love the sport,” McCoy said. “I always want to be on the field. Whether it was from an injury, whether I played a full season, whether I was hurt or whether I wasn’t, I constantly want to play. Do I love breaks? Yes, but not those type. I love the sport. I was watching the playoffs this year and I couldn’t even sit down on the couch and watch it because I wanted to play that bad. So I am just looking forward to being back out there.”
Since the end of the season the Buccaneers roster has been somewhat overhauled, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. After a 4-12 season and finishing last in the NFL in total defense and points allowed, Tampa Bay added safety Mark Barron, linebackers Lavonte David and Najee Goode, and defensive back Keith Tandy, through the draft. Other new faces expected to contribute defensively are free agents, Eric Wright, Amobi
Okoye and Gary Gibson.
McCoy said despite the new teammates, the transition has gone well.
“You just kind of can’t tell it is a bunch of young guys because of how the system is ran,” McCoy said. “There is not any place for a young guy. He (head coach Greg Schiano) doesn’t separate the young and the vets. Everybody is just one. So when practice goes on and you see guys run into the locker room you just kind of can’t tell who is young and who is not because everything is just running smooth.”
Another new face that got McCoy’s attention – and admiration – is that of former Rutgers defensive lineman Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed covering a kickoff while at Rutgers. The Buccaneers added LeGrand as a free agent after the draft, and despite knowing LeGrand will never put on pads again, his impact on the team has already been felt, according to McCoy.
“I just met him,” McCoy said. “He is a great guy. He had a chance to address the team and if you never found any type of motivation before listening to him talk it was definitely a confidence- and motivation-builder. He is a strong-willed guy. He is just a great person.
“We always complain about a bunch of nothing. You know? And for a guy to have this sport he loves taken away from him completely you know to be as happy as he has ever been, what can we really complain about?"
While everyone knows McCoy must stay healthy to live up to his potential, fellow defensive tackle Brian Price may be just as an important key to a defensive revival. Price has also had his share on injuries, and most recently an off-the-field tragedy, with the loss of his older sister in a car accident. McCoy talked about Price and the struggles he has faced.
“When I talked to him (recently) he was doing good,” McCoy said. “He was doing good. I have had family issues similar to that before so it is not easy to deal with, but he is in great spirits. You never want an incomplete team. We need every piece if we are going to reach our goal. So with him being next to me [and] being one of my partners up front I am really excited to see his return.
“If he is anything like me this (football) is a getaway,” McCoy said. “You know Coach Schiano always says he never comes to a day of work because he is getting paid to do something he loves. It is the same thing for me. I love this sport and I am sure he (Price) does, too. So when he gets back I figure it will be a good getaway for him.”
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