Give a player back his health and put him in a system that fits his skill set and what you have is a situation much like the one Buccaneers DT Roy Miller finds himself in this preseason.
Miller spent all of 2011 fighting through knee and back problems, but those are in the past, he said, and so too is the read-and-react scheme that might have limited him just as much as the injuries did.
In its place is a scheme that every Bucs defender has described as aggressive and attack-oriented, and Miller believes that and his improved health will allow him to be a difference maker this year.
"I can play a lot more aggressively in this scheme and like I said, I'm healthy, so I'm ready and I'm excited for this year,'' Miller said following a recent training camp workout.
"Last year, the scheme was a little different, and then we had the (lost) offseason (because of the lockout) and that didn't help either. But then I got hurt and so things just never really came together for me.''
The Bucs need everything to come together for Miller this year. He is at the top of their depth chart at nose tackle and with the depth there a little suspect he figures to be a key defensive cog.
Of course, Miller needs things to come together for himself as well. A third-round pick out of Texas in 2009, he has yet to play consistently at the level the Bucs envisioned when they selected him and time may be running out.
Now in the final year of his rookie contract, Miller will make $1.37 million this year but he may have to earn every penny of it to earn tenure with the Bucs. Miller believes the change will allow him to do that.
"The No. 1 thing for me is I'm healthy, and No. 2, the scheme has changed,'' Miller said. "It's more attack oriented and that is what I did two years ago and I had a pretty good year (47 tackles, one sack), so I'm looking forward to getting back to that.''
Black of all trades
One of LB Quincy Black's strengths is his versatility, and new Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan seems to be making every effort to take advantage of that versatility during training camp.
Though he has worked mostly as a strongside linebacker in camp drills, Black has also dropped back into the secondary as a safety and stepped up to the line and put his hands in the dirt as a defensive end.
"I played some safety and some defensive end in college and it's kind of been the same deal here,'' Black said. "I like it because what I pride myself on is trying to be the best player on the field without the ball.''
Black struggled in that endeavor a year ago. He ranked fifth on the team with 75 tackles, including eight for a loss, but he also was among the league leaders in missed tackles with a missed-tackle percentage of 17.2 according to FootballOutsiders.com.
Like Miller, Black said he feels more comfortable in the new scheme the Bucs are running because his primary objective off the snap is to simply "go'' and make plays instinctively.
Fantasy fans take note
The Bucs offense went two-for-three inside the red zone against the Dolphins on Friday night with both of their touchdowns coming on leaps over the line of scrimmage form inside the 2-yard line.
RB LeGarrette Blount, who scored the first of those two TDs, said running the ball inside the red zone is something fans can expect to see a lot of from the Bucs this coming season.
"Definitely, that's what we're going to do,'' Blount said of running inside the red zone. "That is definitely a statement that we are going to make around the league.''
They made a definitive statement on Friday. The Bucs ran 11 plays from inside the Dolphins 20 in their preseason opener, and all but two of those plays were running plays.