TAMPA - Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is all-in with the Buccaneers' new defense. He already stated he would not hold out to force a team's hand with a new contract, and he's excited about what he has seen on the field during the offseason program.
General manager Jason Licht brought in high-priced help in the former of defensive end Michael Johnson and cornerback Alterraun Verner, and head coach Lovie Smith and coordinator Leslie Frazier are highly respected defensive minds who run fewer stunts and focus on putting playmakers in position to make plays.
The Bucs event have a defensive version of an up-tempo attack.
"Everybody runs a two-minute (offensive) scheme right?" McCoy said Tuesday. "Everybody has to have a two-minute offense and of course we do and we've been able to utilize that a little bit, but we're in different tempos, we huddle quite a bit as well and so there's really nothing much different than what you would normally see from time to time of somebody just going into a two-minute offense if they need be."
The competition has also been ratcheted up with the new additions. Verner will man one cornerback spot, leaving second-year player Johnthan Banks to battle for a starting job with Mike Jenkins, with Danny Gorrer and Rashaan Melvin also pushing hard during OTAs.
"We've got some depth at corner and it'll all shake itself out once we get to training camp, we get the pads on and get through the preseason, but right now it's been very heated and very good for our team," said Frazier.
That depth at cornerback will only be aided by the pressure produced up front by the likes of Johnson and McCoy. The Bucs finished 17th in pass defense last season, although that was also with Darrelle Revis all but shutting down one side of the field.
Verner will help fill that void, and the secondary will be greatly aid if the pass rush can produce more than the 34 sacks it mustered last season to finish in a tie for 23rd in the NFL.
If the Bucs' defense takes a big step forward under the new coaching staff and with the personnel upgrades, it's the crown jewel of the unit that stands to benefit in the wallet. McCoy is already a two-time Pro Bowl player, and the team would love to lock him into a long-term deal before he hits free agency next offseason.
"He's been very, very impressive," said Frazier. "I've watched him from a distance, seeing some of his tape when we play common opponents, I remember him when he came out of college and he's a joy. To have your best player working as hard as he does every single day, he sets a great example for the rest of our defense, really the rest of our team, tremendous, tremendous leader and an outstanding football player, so yeah I'm looking forward to watching him when the fall rolls around."