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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

McCoy wants Bucs' defense to forge new identity

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Published:   |   Updated: March 20, 2013 at 06:18 PM
TAMPA -

After a handful of practices and one dominating effort in the preseason opener, Gerald McCoy has seen enough.

The second-year defensive tackle of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could hardly contain himself Monday when talking about the potential of the team's young defense.

The Bucs limited the Chiefs to only six first downs in Friday night's 25-0 victory, despite the absence of several key defensive players.

"Last week we got six sacks,'' said McCoy, who returned to practice Sunday after suffering a strained rotator cuff. "I was missing, Brian Price was missing and Roy Miller was missing. Last year, we couldn't sniff the quarterback. That's a good sign. Our linebackers were all over the place. (Mason) Foster's doing his thing. When you play the tape, all you see are 11 jerseys all around the ball. Preseason or not, we've got a different mentality.

"I can go out and say it — this defense didn't have an identity, but we're going to go out and get one. Nobody's playing hesitant anymore. Nobody's playing for gap integrity. They're just going in to destroy stuff. Once we put it all together and it starts to work, it's going to be scary.''

McCoy's rookie season was disappointing until November, when the No. 3 pick in the 2010 draft began dropping quarterbacks and resembling the disruptive force that made him an All-American at Oklahoma.

A biceps injury sidelined McCoy for the final three games and he has returned with a new outlook.

"I'm not playing for people anymore,'' McCoy said. "I'm not even playing for me no more. I'm a different person. My mindset is different. I told you guys my faith is the main part of my life. Last year, I was playing for the fans, playing for coaches, playing for you guys (media). This year, everything I do, I play for God. Everything I do goes back to him.''

Noting Tampa Bay's reputation for stingy defense during the heyday of Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch, McCoy said the Bucs defense is determined to recapture its swagger.

"We saw what happened last year,'' he said. "Our defense was real shaky and had a lot of ups and downs. You never knew what to expect. You used to know the defense was going to hold its own around here. The question was, 'What's the offense gonna do?' Last year, it was the offense that got it. They were all balling. It was like, if the defense can do its part, we can get a win.

"We want to change that. We can put up big numbers and if this defense can pull it together and do what I know we can, somebody's in trouble.''

The presence of two new defensive line coaches, Keith Millard and Grady Stretz, has energized McCoy, who is expected to play in Thursday night's preseason home game against the Patriots.

"Our D-line coaches are two insane guys, but they can coach and they have a different mentality for us,'' McCoy said. "They tell us you've got to be animals, you've got to be relentless. You run over your own teammate to get there. Everybody is flying off the ball. A mistake would happen last year because I was thinking and I was going 60. Mistakes are going to happen this year with no thinking, going 110.''

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