Bucs rookie DE Noah Spence – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The loss of Jacquies Smith, who was placed on IR Monday after tearing his ACL on special teams in Atlanta, is significant for the Bucs moving forward.
Though Smith wasn’t an every-down player, he was productive in the rotation and gave the defensive line a spark – evidenced by his four sacks in the first two games of 2015 and his impressive preseason (four sacks) this past August. Tampa Bay will rely even more on its depth along the defensive line now, as multiple players will be called upon to help fill the void.
“It’s going to be tough,” head coach Dirk Koetter said Monday, calling the loss of Smith “unfortunate.” “But we have to pick up the slack in other areas. Some guys may have to play more snaps than they had before.”
“We’re down two defensive ends through training camp and the first ball game,” added defensive coordinator Mike Smith on Thursday, referring to the loss of George Johnson, as well. “(DeVonte) Lambert is going to get an opportunity.
Bucs DE Howard Jones – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“Howard is going to get more snaps,” Smith continued. “Howard’s had some production in this league. People like to designate him as a DPR (designated pass rusher). He’s going to get an opportunity to rush the passer.”
Along with Jones, who played sparingly last season, the Bucs will likely look for rookie Noah Spence to come into his own sooner than later. The second-round pick played 35 snaps in his first NFL game, and though Mike Smith said they would rely on a rotation, expect the high count to remain relatively consistent.
For Spence now, with one game in the books, the objective is to make his presence felt a little more each week. He’s already begun trying to refine his craft, incorporating more of the techniques that made him one of the draft’s top pass rushers.
“Definitely switch up my moves a little more, try to use things that I have in my arsenal instead of running out there kind of blindly,” Spence said of trying to improve. “Just using stuff I know I can do – like I do in practice – and bring that to the game.”
Taking in the environment during his first NFL outing was a bit of a distraction, Spence said. There were times when he was predictable. But as he continues to get accustomed to the league, the better he’ll play and the more he’ll have on tape to review.
“(I’m) definitely studying a lot of film and what I messed up on,” Spence said. “And studying stuff that will make better for the next game.”
Teammate and fellow defensive lineman Akeem Spence can back Noah Spence up on that.
“He keeps showing that he wants to get better and keep doing the extra work,” Akeem Spence said of Noah Spence. “He’s doing the things to be successful. Now that he got the first game out of the way, he can go show what he really has.
“We’re going to greatly miss Jack this year because we expected him to contribute big, but I think we have a good nucleus,” Spence continued. “And then we have (defensive) tackles as well who can get to the quarterback.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Really sucks I thought J. Smith would have double digit sacks if he stayed healthy for sure. I really hope Jones and Spence are up to the task now.
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