J.J. Watt isn’t the the only All-Pro defensive lineman that could give the Bucs a headache this Sunday. Lined up at the one-technique position for Houston will be five-time Pro Bowler Vince Wilfork, one of the decade’s most dominant nose tackles.
At 6-foot-2, 325-pounds, the former Patriot is still a nightmare to defend in his 12th season in the NFL.
“There’s not a whole lot like him, who are able to play at a high level for so many years,” Bucs head coach Lovie Smith said Friday after practice. “Again, I vividly recall when he was coming out (of the University of Miami), spending a good amount of time with him and knew he would be a good football player in this league. To maintain that for a long period of time, and still playing well… I mean he’s just a force.”
Bucs C Joe Hawley – Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Right and left tackles Gosder Cherilus and Donovan Smith will have their hands full with the Texans’ defensive ends, but for a team that stresses establishing the run, Tampa Bay’s guards won’t have it any easier. Opening up lanes start inside with moving Wilfork.
“We’re going to have to deal with him in order to get the running game going,” Smith said. “It starts there. He can get some push, so for Joe (Hawley) and the rest of the guys, it will be a big challenge.”
The Bucs offensive linemen will likely be on their own Sunday, as it’s difficult to double-team Houston’s front four. With Watt, Wilfork and Jadeveon Clowney, individuals along the Bucs five-man front will be occupied with their own matchup, meaning there could be a lot of isolated battles in the trenches.
“They’re definitely one of the best defensive lines in the league,” center Joe Hawley said. “They have a few good players individually, and having those guys along the same line is difficult to prepare for. We know we’re going to get a lot of one-on-one’s. When they have one good guy, you can game plan around him. But when they have a few, you really have to focus on technique and win your one-on-one matchup.”
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.
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