With Bucs training camp quickly approach the PewterReport.com staff asks – and answers – 15 critical camp questions that need to be answered this August as Tampa Bay prepares to embark on the 2019 season. Over the next 15 days PewterReport.com will offer up its thoughts on the topics that the Bucs will need to sort out in order for the team to be successful this season and possibly compete for a long-awaited playoff berth.
These are the things that the PewterReport.com staff will be following closely in camp, and invite our readers to share their thoughts as well in the comment section.
Bucs’ Critical Camp Question No. 10:
Does OLB Noah Spence Make The Team And Contribute In 2019?
Yes and yes.
Noah Spence began his college career at Ohio State where he totaled 14 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and a forced fumble through 13 games as a sophomore, earning him a first-team All-Big Ten selection. Then two failed drug tests led to his transfer to Eastern Kentucky where he dominated his competition, racking up 22.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 11 games before Tampa Bay drafted him in second round of the 2016 draft after a tremendous week at the Senior Bowl.
Many thought the Bucs had landed a great talent with the 39th overall pick at the time and after recording 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in his rookie season, things looked promising for the young edge rusher. He added another sack over six games in the 2017 season but a recurring shoulder injury cut his second season short. After successful shoulder surgery Spence was healthy and added size, but fell out of favor with defensive line coach Brentson Buckner and rarely saw the field in 2018.
Prior to the 2017 season he cut weight and went through an unreal transformation. Before the 2018 season Spence reportedly worked out through a 9,000-calorie per day diet, bulking up to fit a traditional 4-3 defensive end role.
Now under the tutelage of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, outside linebackers coach Larry Foote, Spence will have the coaching to develop as a player and an opportunity to play the standup outside linebacker position that he probably should have been playing all along.
It’s been a long road for Bucs’ fans waiting for Spence to become the player many believed he could be when he was drafted, and this upcoming season will be his best chance to flourish. Look for Spence to rotate with newly acquired Shaq Barrett, Carl Nassib and Anthony Nelson in the Bucs’ base 3-4 defense, possibly leading to his most productive year as a pro if he can stay healthy. With Jason Pierre-Paul’s neck injury sidelining him for at least half a season, the Bucs need Spence to step up and deliver some outside pass rush now more than ever.