Clinton McDonald’s absence left Tampa Bay shorthanded on the interior defensive line last week, but that didn’t stop the Bucs from keeping an eye on Gerald McCoy’s playing time.
According to defensive coordinator Leslie Frasier, that’s both strategic and precautionary.
“We’re trying to develop a rotation system and you don’t want to have a big drop off when the next guy comes in,” Frazier said Thursday afternoon. “We’ve had to deal with the injury bug at times, but now I think we’re settling in a little bit with a rotation so we can take some of those snaps off of Gerald so that when we do get to the fourth quarter, he’s still able to play his best football. We don’t want him to just start fast and then we don’t have the same Gerald the whole second half of the ball game.”
McCoy’s still played a higher percentage of total defensive snaps than any other Buccaneer D-lineman (72 percent). Taking out the St. Louis game when he got injured after playing eight defensive plays and the following contest in Atlanta when he was inactive, McCoy’s percentage in games he’s started and finished jumps to 84.0 percent.
The 78.7 percent of plays (48 of 61) McCoy participated in against Cincinnati represented the third time his activity dropped below 80 percent in games he finished.
The Pro Bowler acknowledged the periodic breathers he’s been receiving during his Thursday afternoon press conference and said it’s different but beneficial.
“I’m so used to playing most of the snaps,” McCoy said. “This is new to me getting a couple of snaps off early in the game. [I’m] getting more than enough snaps off, but it’s been helpful. I feel good, really better than I’ve felt ever at this point in the season. It’s helpful. I think I’m able to be at my best at the end of the game when I’m fresh and got a couple of plays off early.”
Despite a few quick breaks throughout games, one thing that hasn’t dipped is McCoy’s production. He leads the team in sacks with 8.5 (minus-60.5 total yards lost) and quarterback hits with 13. McCoy’s totaled 32 tackles and his 12 made behind the line of scrimmage trail only linebacker Lavonte David’s 14.