The best photos from the first week of OTAs.
In years past, the Buccaneers have struggled rushing the passer, particularly from the defensive end position. The Bucs haven't had a player record double-digit sacks since 2005, but the team hopes the addition of two high-level pass-rushers could help end the drought.
The offseason, the Bucs acquired defensive end Noah Spence, who many believed to be the best pure pass-rusher, in the second round of the NFL Draft. Tampa Bay signed a proven veteran, Robert Ayers, in free agency a few weeks before the draft began. Plus the team returns Gerald McCoy, Jacquies Smith and Howard Jones, who accounted for 20.5 sacks in 2015.
But before Ayers, Spence and the Buccaneers' defensive linemen can focus on bringing down opposing quarterbacks, they have a new system to learn. So far, Mike Smith, who the Bucs hired to run their defense this spring, has made quite the impression on his players.
"He's all about winning," Ayers said after Thursday's OTA practice. "He's all about putting people in position to be successful. He's all about giving you knowledge and being able to anticipate what guys are going to do or how they're going to attack you. He wants to fill your toolbox up. He doesn't want to send you out on the field and not be prepared for anything – that's the thing I like.
RECAP: WEEK 1 OF OTAs
"He's giving us a lot of knowledge and he's putting a lot on our plate and expectations are high, as they should be. We're all just trying to soak it all up and let him motivate us and motivate ourselves and get better."
When asked about Smith, McCoy began his comments the exact same way.
"He is just about winning," he said. "That's all he cares about. But he's big on guys being great teammates. He doesn't want any arrogant guys, he doesn't want guys thinking that they're above the system and he doesn't care who the leader is. He says leaders will emerge, but he cares more about guys being great teammates and them supporting each other. If you see a person who doesn't know, go help them. Don't be afraid to communicate and realize that we are a family here, so regardless of what happens, we have to stick together. But as far as him as a person, he's a great guy. Great guy."
Whether or not any of the Bucs' defensive linemen reach double-digit sacks will be determined in the coming months, but as OTAs carry on, it appears things on are on the right track.