Of all the injured Bucs players in 2012, defensive end Adrian Clayborn appears to have responded to rehab the best and has been on the field throughout training camp. The focused former Hawkeye says the defensive lines knows what their goal is in 2013.
The 2013 Buccaneers defense will look to improve on their defensive pass coverage from last season. One of the missing pieces from last season was a pass rush that was not there. Part of the reason was Adrian Clayborn being lost for the rest of the year after a right knee injury during their Week 3 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. But entering this season, that knee will not be an issue for the third-year player out of Iowa.
“I feel good,” Clayborn said. “My knee is finally 100 percent and I'm just trying to play hard everyday.”
Clayborn was lost for the year when he and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy met Tony Romo in the backfield when Clayborn's leg got caught between two players, tearing ligaments in his right knee.
The 2011 first-rounder has recorded 7.5 sacks and 28 solo tackles with 14 assists in 19 games with the Bucs. To improve those numbers, Clayborn has taken on the advice of front-seven coach Brian Cox, who he says has been in the defensive line meeting room full-time.
“Me personally, to get back to my old self and don't try anything fancy,” Clayborn said. “Just hard-nose and get after the quarterback.”
He won't be alone in that department. This season, he will rotate sides on the defensive line with teammate Da'Quan Bowers, who Clayborn says they understand what needs to get done.
“You don't really have to talk about what's understood,” Clayborn said. “We need to get after the quarterback, we need to show them we are the draft picks they drafted and get after the quarterback and provide for the defense.”
Bowers will look to play a full season as a starter for the first time in his young, three-year career. Hampered by injuries, the former first-team All-ACC and ACC Defensive Player of the Year has only recorded 4.5 sacks in 26 games with the Buccaneers since being drafted in 2011.
Tampa Bay should be fine across the defensive line with 2012 Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy looking to play a second straight season injury-free. The attention he will draw away from others should be beneficial for everyone else across the line, including Clayborn and Bowers.
But as a unit, the defense Clayborn is looking to provide for is one that has a revamped secondary. With newcomers like rookie Johnthan Banks and veterans Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson, Clayborn stated that the feel of the defense is different and that difference is felt across the board.
“You can just feel the presence. You can hear Dashon back there talking to them and getting organized,” Clayborn said. “You can feel the linebackers stepping up. You just feel it all.”
And that feeling resonates throughout the entire team as he states everyone has bought in to the system more than last season.
“It's 10 times, 20 times better than last year and I only played three games. Just everybody working with the system and playing together is a lot better than last year.”
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