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.

Bucs DE Noah Spence
Bucs DE Noah Spence – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

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.

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30 COMMENTS

  1. I have seen Spence working with Chuck Smith this off season. Chuck Smith puts an emphasis on using your hands and speed for leverage. To me the big question mark is can Spence’s shoulder hold up the rigors of playing against NFL OTs? He is going to be jolted constantly and his shoulders have to hold up or else he can’t be productive.

    Watching him in pre season last year he looked very pedestrian against 4th string OL. I hope he the extra emphasis on using speed and his hands can return him to his former self.

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    • @alldaway

      Can’t agree with you more. I think Noah Spence’s chronic nature of his shoulder issue is continually under reported. He underwent a shoulder labral repair for a chronic dislocation and then it happened again, derailing another season with another surgery. I don’t know if he will ever have a full season where he can play 16 games without a shoulder harness. Not a good situation for an outside linebacker in a 3-4.

      I continue to be the guy that suggests that JPP is going to be available sooner from his C2 ondontoid fracture since it appears that it was non displaced and there has been no talk about any nerve root involvement. I do expect JPP to reach a very high level again.

      I think Spence playing at a high level is more of a Buc fan hope but not a likely realization.

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  2. Never was a base 4-3 de. This was just part of the issue. The Bucs have better coaches this year. He is just one of several with the opportunity to shine

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  3. Some NFL teams started training camp today or at minimum reported to camp. Football is in the air. Bucs coming soon! I’ve already had some fun with my perception with the new Buc defense. I believe that there is always some truth in jest.

    I truly believe this defense will play to the strength of its players. Players like Noah Spence and Shaq Barrett are poised to impress. I can’t say how this defense will translate in wins or losses, I just have a good feeling about Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles use of personnel that will put players in a position to succeed.

    I don’t have any insider information. I am waiting for camp to start like everybody else to see what we really have. All I can say at this point is that I’m as enthused or optimistic as I’ve been in a long time about the potential for this team in general to improve. Go Bucs!

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  4. This was one (maybe the only) 2nd round selection of Jason Licht’s career that I agreed with. It was a risk, but one that had some thought behind…we needed a DE, he was one, he slid because of drug issues, he seemed to check-out in diligence, he had a good pro-day, he had good tape, and the alternatives weren’t exactly jumping off the page at 39th.

    He’s been underwhelming to poor on our team. Injuries have a played a part – “the best ability is availability”.

    I don’t understand why moving from a DE to an OLB is obviously going to make the difference…he’s always been a DE. Ohio State ran 4-3, Bosa stepped in behind Spence when he left and excelled as a DE. He doesn’t seem to have ever played in coverage. His best attribute (some might say his only) has been the speed rush to the outside of OTs, which in the NFL has seen him washed out of the play far more than making a play.

    There’s some talent there, but a very long road to production…maybe too long of a road, 4-years out of college now.

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  5. @tnew You are exactly right – Spence is a 3-4 guy. He was an ironman his rookie season and despite playing with a bad shoulder had a very productive year. Seems like thing fell off the rails after that, but I’ve always believed he was being played out of position – a consistent theme of the prior regime. I’m pulling for the guy because he comes across as a hard worker.

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  6. “Fell out of favor with Brentson Buckner”… Buckner was just a DL coach and should’ve never had that much control over playing time. This was a high 2nd rd pick and If there’s no report of breaking team rules or any other disciplinary issues Spence should have been on the field. If this team is going to compete Noah Spence will have to contribute, But Dline coaches can’t be allowed to restrict playing time. Sometimes I wonder if Dirk Koetter & his staff actually wanted to win.

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  7. Spence is a great example that coaching matters. We should not have drafted him as 4-3 DE, with WEAK bum for Def. coordinator. Our team loves to waste most of it’s 2rd during Jason L. time here.

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  8. He has all the tools. Bad or inefficient coaching has hurt him.

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  9. There was no accountability. Mike Smith D Coor. – Mark Duffner LB Coach- B Buckner Dline Coach: Somebody should’ve asked one these guys Hey “Why is Spence not playing” but nope not a word, nobody cared. This is why they all got fired!

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  10. Jets report card: What a horrible coaching job
    “I don’t know we didn’t play well,” Coach Bowles said

    Todd what happened at the Jets It was an A-to-Z fiasco.
    How do you figure that, Coach Bowles?
    “I wish I could sit here and explain it because we weren’t very good,” he said.
    Um … OK, about all those wide-open receivers constinatanly uncovered against your 3-4 all across the secondary … ?
    “I don’t know why,” he said.

    Uh …

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  11. Why are you bringing up the Jets? Their GM was a well documented moron and if you are trying throw shade on Todd Bowles he had no control over personnel. Why don’t you go back and pull some quotes from 2014 when he was actually DC then maybe someone will give credence to your statement.

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  12. Bucs have a shoddy system of doing background on players before they draft them. They often reach for players that could have been picked one or two rounds later. Spence is a tweener, with a well-documented history of injuries. I hope he makes the Team and contributes because lord knows we are thin at the position.

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  13. I can’t wait to see what Bowles will do with this Defense. With so much speed and youth with just enough experience it’s gonna be a lot more fun to watch than the previous few years.

    Hey, if there are struggles then it can’t be any worse than the last couple years but, oh man, if it starts to work there will be so many Haters crying themselves to sleep! Hahaha I can’t wait to find out.

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  14. Enjoyed the above comments. Posters on this site for the most part are informative and entertaining. As for Spence I too was pleased with the 2nd round pick. Unfortunately whether it was the shoulder, the scheme, or the coaching he now has a chance to perform to mine and others expectations. With JPP out Noah could be a huge asset. Only thing I know for sure is in 9 days it all gets real. Go Buc’s

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  15. I have no faith in Spence; he is what he is. I’m still concerned about DL & OL; I can’t figure out why we didn’t address it as a higher priority in the draft.

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  16. 2014 is ancient history in NFL , it what have you done lately Bowels Leftwich , last three years you were all losers directing worst offence in league and 29th defence in league .
    Bowles was brought to Jets to improve defence.
    They are what is called buddy hires .
    Put the old gang back together never mind the job they have done last three years.
    If Bucs had decent offence and worst defence last year would have it made since bring in the best DC in league last year.
    Vic Fangio Bears only allowed 283 points last year.
    No Buc Ass we needed a coach to fix broken QB dumb ass

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  17. Don’t worry if Spence can’t step up and stay healthy, I think both Kenny and Daniels can give him big competition for his position.

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  18. This will be make or break for Spence. He has proper scheme and coaching. He is healthy as well. Was crazy watching him in pre season last year unable to do anything against 3rd and 4th string guys. I assume that’s partly why he didn’t play last year? Who knows. I hope he succeeds 2nd rd picks have been lame for us. If he doesn’t at least play average in 3-4 this year it’s time to move on from him.

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  19. Todd what happened to your large-scale systematic plan to bring the 3-4 to the New York Jets and why did it not work ?
    ” I don’t know ”
    Todd Bowles
    9-30-18

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  20. I mince no word nor cut..any corners. I’m a realist. Spence should have been cut..like a bad habit..long ago.
    We are not winners because of a..plethera of factors. And one of them is..Holding on to assets to Deeyham long! The guy should have been managing a fast food franchise long ago. Don’t hate me. Cause I’m tellin the straight up..Gods honest truth!

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  21. Sometimes players have great college numbers because of the level of competition their school faced, and that doesn’t always translate to greatness in the NFL. I didn’t know about Spence until he was drafted so I didn’t know what to expect, but his teammates speak very highly about his potential. I’m hoping the combination of injury, coaching, scheme and technique were to blame for holding him back. Time will tell.

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  22. This is news to me –

    Many thought the Bucs had landed a great talent with the 39th overall pick at the time

    The way I remember it he “fell” to us when more knowledgeable GMs in the league knew better than to draft an undersized player at that position. Hopefully this year is a turning point but to date they’ve been proven correct and we’re left holding the bag.

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  23. BUC-ASS-BOB, why are you even on here? Go to another team already. There are coach’s that are way better Coordinators then Head Coach’s . Bowles is without a doubt and excellent DC, that’s where he needs to be. I can’t wit for this team to shut your mouth!!! I’ve been a Bucs fan since ‘76 and proud of it. Yes I’ve been critical of something’s for sure. But never ever a constant bashing like you. Just go already and “Go Bucs!!” !!!

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  24. You know what’s really funny? Bob literally couldn’t spell either offense or defense. They are spelled with an S not a C Bob.

    I really don’t know why you have this agenda to constantly dig up things to trash your own team. I think you have created an on-line persona that you’re now trying your best to magnify after probably being ignored much of your life. The character you continue to present is really Fake Ass Bob. You’re just as hopeful as many of us, but if things don’t go as well as we’d like, you always have the “I told you so” on which you can take some comfort.

    You’d have more credibility if you, every now and then, showed us the “real” Bob, who I suspect loves this team more than a lot of folks, but reluctant to show his true feelings in fear of being disappointed again and again.

    Few of us like everything the Bucs do and admire every player wearing the colors. We’re all conditioned to be a bit skeptical. Each new season I cast aside my fears and hope for the best. Like being wheeled into a surgery suite, I hope to be wheeled out alive and be surprised if I wake up dead.

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  25. Scubog you hit the nail on the head. I am not responding to his idiotic comments anymore. This is one sad lonely guy who likely has no friends sitting here getting his jollies because his stupid clueless rants get attention albeit negative attention. Like a child that acts up and says stupid shit for attention.

    Everyone Quit acknowledging this asswipe and he will go annoy other boards with his bullshit.

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  26. Haaaa Haaaa! @scubog you said it all “If I wake up Dead”… I just spilled coffee all over the place 😂.. that’s the life of a Buc Fan for the last 15 years “I woke up Dead” to watch Chris Simms & Bruce Gradkowski and the likes bury one season after another. I can’t stop laughing 😂

    How about waking up Dead to watch Lovie Smith with those large headphones on looking stoic & stupid and suprised when his Defense can’t cover a slant route. Lol

    What about watching Chris Canty trying to tackle high and getting the most viscous Stiff Arm anybody has ever seen on TV.
    “To Wake Up Dead” that just made my day!! 😅😂

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  27. Interesting take on Spence – one I hope is correct. Hopefully the transfer to a new defensive scheme that fits his skill set much better than the previous efforts resurrects his career.

    To me, the OLB/EDGE situation in Tampa is much like the WR room without the top end talent: there are a lot of bodies with potential to break out. I live in Denver and have seen Shaq Barrett play for his whole career – if not for the extreme talent on both edges there, he’d be a starter. Nassib showed his ability last year. Spence has been discussed, and still has a high ceiling. We also can’t forget the young guys (Kahzin Daniels, Farrington Huguenin, David Kenney, and Pat O’Connor) who will push the semi-established talent and probably occupy at least two practice squad spots. I don’t think there’s a 10-sack guy in the group (I’d love to be wrong about that one), but this is definitely one of the top position battles to watch in the preseason and they may combine for more sacks than JPP, Vinny Curry, and Nassib did last season – which is a net improvement in value and production.

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  28. Spense is not too small nor too light. He is a 250 Lb OLB which is proper size for an OLB. Look at the size of the LBers for the Broncos when they won the Super Bowl and terrorized their opponents. D. Smith can handle big DEs. His krypton always have been speed rushers the size of Spense. Dee Ford the speed rusher for the Forty Niners who will challenge D. Smith in our first regular game this year is only the size of Spense!

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  29. Glad you appreciated the humor Captain. Can’t take this stuff too seriously. I must confess, I stole that line from my mother in law. Only difference, she wasn’t being sarcastic.

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