Oklahoma football: Ex-Sooner Gerald McCoy poised for break-out season in Tampa Bay

SOONERS IN THE NFL — After two injury-shortened NFL seasons, former Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy says he's stronger than ever and ready to be a leader for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
by Michael Baldwin Published: August 13, 2012

photo - Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy works out during NFL football training camp Saturday, July 30, 2011, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco) ORG XMIT: FLBB114
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy works out during NFL football training camp Saturday, July 30, 2011, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco) ORG XMIT: FLBB114

The statistic usually is attached to the importance of a star quarterback, not an in-the-trenches defensive lineman.

Tampa Bay is 11-8 when Gerald McCoy plays. The Buccaneers are 3-10 when the former Oklahoma All-American defensive tackle has been sidelined.

“I don't pay any attention to that stat,” McCoy said in a telephone interview with The Oklahoman. “The stat I look at is how many games I'm playing. If I'm not playing, I'm not helping. The stat I want to see is 16 games played.”

McCoy, drafted third overall in the 2010 NFL Draft — one spot behind Detroit's Ndamukong Suh, has started only 19 of 32 games.

A torn bicep muscle in each arm halted his first two NFL seasons. Both times McCoy was injured on running plays, reaching out to stop a running back. Each time his arm got caught on pads, overextending his arm.

Entering his third season, McCoy said he's never been in better shape. He spent 2 1/2 months during this offseason in San Diego with trainer Todd Durkin, who gained notoriety for his role in reviving Drew Brees' career. Other NFL stars Durkin has worked with include Aaron Rodgers and LaDanian Tomlinson.

“Working with Todd I feel great,” McCoy said. “I love the game so much. I just want to help my teammates. I'm a team player. I'm not about Gerald. I want to do what I can to help my team. When I can't do that it doesn't feel good.”


New Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano and teammates have used “hardest worker on the team” and “difference maker” to describe McCoy.

McCoy has impressed teammates throughout off-season workouts and the early stages of training camp.

“Gerald McCoy is on a mission,” Bucs defensive tackle Roy Miller told the Tampa Tribune. “He's going against two Pro Bowl guards every day (in practice) and is making plays all over the field. When you've got a guy with that kind of talent on a mission like that, something dangerous could happen.”

Said Bucs center Jeremy Zuttah, “He wants it so bad and is willing to do whatever it takes to put it all together

“Everyone knows how talented Gerald is,” Zuttah told the Tribune. “He's as talented as any D-lineman you'll see in the NFL. The man has been tireless.”

Touted in Tampa as the next Warren Sapp, a defensive tackle capable of disrupting plays before they develop, McCoy is making plays like he did at OU when he started 40 games.

“I haven't been around a lot of guys like that, maybe two or three,” Schiano said last week. “He'd be further along if he hadn't had the injuries the past two years, but I think he can be a really special player.”

by Michael Baldwin
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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