Warren Sapp anxious to work with Gerald McCoy

Gerald McCoy (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

For the first time since leave the Buccaneers organization to sign with the Raiders, Warren Sapp is lending a helping hand in getting Gerald McCoy and Brian Price ready for the NFL. Read on to find out more about how Sapp feels about the Bucs newest defensive tackles and why Raheem Morris believes he found four starters in this year's draft.


Warren Sapp says he's willing and anxious to work with Gerald McCoy.

"I have to seek this kid out," Sapp said. "I have to. There's no way he can be in Tampa and me not help both these kids out."

Sapp was in Los Angeles earlier this week, where he works for the NFL Network. He had just gotten off the phone with UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price, the Bucs' second-round selection.

He likes McCoy and Price. He interviewed both prior to the draft, and they have exchanged text messages.

Sapp believes the best thing they have going for them is each other.

"He's about to go to a whole another level and will be running into people he will never see on a college level," Sapp said of McCoy. "The best thing he has got going for him is another dude beside him. When you're by yourself and asked to climb Mount Everest with one tool bag, it's tough.

"I talked to big Price today, he's all giddy and gung-ho. They're just two lovable kids right now and we'll see if they get a job done. But they haven't done anything yet."

At 6-foot-4, 297-pounds, McCoy is considered the perfect fit at the "three-technique," defensive tackle position that players like Sapp and Vikings' Hall of Famer John Randle mastered.

McCoy played in a similar one-gap scheme at Oklahoma, where he demonstrated an explosive burst off the snap, the ability to penetrate and become disruptive.

So what is the three technique? Basically, it's a name assigned to the position McCoy will line up in the Bucs' defensive line.

"Ninety percent of the time, he's lining up on the outside shoulder of the guard on the tight end side of the formation," said Bucs defensive line coach Todd Wash. "In our package when the ball is snapped and the team shows pass, he has a two-way go on the guard. He can rush the B gap (between the guard and tackle) or the A gap (between the center and guard). To be able to that, you have to have real good suddenness and be a very athletic player. He can't be reached on an outside running play, so we're asking him to play in space. When you watched Gerald play (at Oklahoma), you saw those traits."

Regardless of his accomplishments at Oklahoma, McCoy is in for a shock as an NFL rookie, according to Sapp.

"The biggest transition will be the holding," Sapp said. "In college I'd look at the referee and the flag would be dropped for holding. The first time I did that in NFL, I turned to the referee and said, 'You didn't see that hold?' The ref looked at me and said, 'Grow up.' I said right then that it looks like I have to get this on my own. It's a learning curve, that nobody, nobody can understand or appreciate. He's going to have some fun and some sleepless nights. It goes with that position right there.''

"We're about to see how much does he really love it." Sapp said. "You see his enthusiasm, but does that correlate hours and hours in the office? When you want to go home to Oklahoma, maybe you should want to bring the family to Tampa. Does he take that mentality? Everything he needs is here. Disney is right up the road. What does Price do coming back and forth to California? He needs to be able to tell Price, "When I come here, you come here. They need to work together and fight as a team."

Wash agrees. Price is expected to play nose tackle, or the one technique, lining up on the outside shoulder of the center on the weak side of the formation.

"If you just have one defensive very good player, offenses are going to set protections, they're going to double, chip and really limit lot of things he can do," Wash said.

"Price is an athletic guy and he has a good lower body anchor, which is what you look for with the one technique. He'll face a lot of running backs we call lead weak, where they'll double the one tech and come up to the (middle) linebacker. He has to have more of an anchor and great strength."

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--Former USF quarterback Matt Grothe, who was not selected over the weekend in the NFL draft, has accepted an invitation to participate in the Bucs' rookie minicamp on Friday, hoping to land a free-agent contract.

"I had a good workout with them -- they were happy with it and so was I," Grothe said. "Everybody that comes into these minicamps isn't guaranteed anything. It's time for me to go out and prove myself."

Grothe said he had similar offers from two other NFL teams, but his first shot at the pros will come in Tampa, where he made a name for himself as USF's starting quarterback, finishing as the Big East's all-time career leader in total offense. Grothe has spent the last seven months returning to full strength from a season-ending knee injury he suffered in the third game of last season in September.

--It was black Monday at One Buc Place. The Bucs parted ways with embattled guard Arron Sears. Also being released: defensive tackle Chris Hovan, offensive lineman Shawn Murphy, punter Sam Paulescu and cornerback Stoney Woodson.

Sears, by far, is the biggest name on the list. He missed all of 2009 after spending it on the non-football illness list because of undisclosed personal problems that left him uncommunicative at one point last summer. He returned to the team late in the season but was not activated.

As recently as last month, general manager Mark Dominik said with confidence the club thought Sears could be of assistance to the team in 2010 as he was working out and making an attempt at a comeback. But Sears is believed to have had a setback and now his football future is unclear, at best. It's possible he might not play again.

--Coach Raheem Morris believes the Bucs may have collected as many as four starters from the 2010 draft class. It's hard to argue with the guy who decides which players run out of the tunnel during introductions. You have to figure defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price will win starting jobs, although Roy Miller might have a say in that. At receiver, it's a certainty that Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams will have every chance to win starting jobs. (Sammie Stroughter will be the third down, slot receiver).

"What I really thought we did over this weekend was establish our upfront rush," Morris said. "That's where it all starts at -- up front. We were able to establish our push. We were able to do that yesterday. We were able to get faster and get some speed receivers on the outside. We were able to get a couple guys that can run around for us and play a long time."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You're the motor that makes it go." -- Former Bucs DT Warren Sapp on Gerald McCoy.

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