For his first two NFL seasons, the word "potential'' hung around Gerald McCoy's neck like a set of shoulder pads.
After two seasons undermined by biceps injuries in each arm, the third pick in the 2010 draft is making a dynamic impact up front for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I couldn't be more proud of a guy,'' defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan said of his disruptive under-tackle, who sacked Tony Romo twice at Cowboys Stadium to raise his season total to three.
"Some guys play really hard, but they're not that talented and at the end of the game they don't have much to show for it other than a lot of great effort. Gerald is both. He has talent, plus he plays really hard.''
A revitalized Tampa Bay pass rush takes aim at quarterback Robert Griffin III in Sunday's home matchup against the Redskins, who have struggled to protect their prized rookie.
"McCoy's a great athlete who plays hard,'' Washington coach Mike Shanahan said. "He's a very powerful man surrounded by an excellent supporting cast.''
A season-ending knee injury to right DE Adrian Clayborn elevated Daniel Te'-o-Nesheim into the starting lineup Sunday, when he will try to keep the fleet Griffin from escaping the pocket.
"We'll see what happens, but getting to play is always everybody's goal and hopefully I'll make the best of it,'' he said. "Adrian rushes his butt off every play and he works really hard. You can't replace that kind of guy. You just want to be able to get out there, show you can play and prove to your coaches and teams across the NFL that you're a dude.''
Bucs CB Anthony Gaitor (hamstring) did not participate in Wednesday's practice while G Carl Nicks (toe) and LB Dekoda Watson (chest) were limited. Redskins starting LT Trent Williams (knee) did not practice and WR Pierre Garcon (foot) was limited.
Return to sender
Bucs coach Greg Schiano indicated veteran WR Roscoe Parrish, signed on Tuesday, is likely to return punts against the Redskins. Parrish twice led the league in punt returns and his career average (12.0) ranks seventh all-time in league history.
"Punt returning is tough,'' Schiano said. "I don't envy those guys. It is a special skill set. A kickoff is an end-over-end kick that's much easier to handle than a punt. The punt spirals. A great punt gets to the top and turns over, then starts to run from you. That is the hardest skill there is in football – punt return.''
The Bucs signed DE Jeff Charleston, who played one year for the Colts and four seasons for the Saints, posting eight sacks and three forced fumbles in 65 NFL games. …Tampa Bay leads the league in red zone defense, allowing only two touchdowns in 11 possessions. …Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall has five interceptions in his past seven games against the Bucs.