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Calijah Kancey Focused on Details in Second-Year Ascension  

With training camp fast approaching and a new NFL season on the horizon, second-year defensive lineman Calijah Kancey is focused on correcting mistakes to fuel ascension

June 4 takeaways_

Each NFL offseason ushers in change and for Buccaneers' defensive lineman Calijah Kancey, he is focused on correction in Year Two.

"Last year coming in, I did not have any film playing in the NFL and now I have film playing in the NFL," noted Kancey. "I have seen the mistakes I have made and now I can actually go and make those corrections…Whether it is a hand placement - where I could have used my hands, or I let my hands die, or if I stopped my feet or anything like that."

The NFL is a game of inches, and every detail is paramount. Embracing that sentiment, Kancey is going back to the fundamentals during OTAs to foster sack production in 2024. Kancey, the Bucs' first round draft pick in 2023 out of Pittsburgh, finished his rookie season with 10 tackles for loss, which tied for second among rookies with Texans' Will Anderson Jr. He had the fourth-highest stuff rate among defensive tackles (minimum 150 snaps) per Next Gen Stats, routinely wreaking havoc in the backfield. Kancey totaled 577 snaps for the Bucs last season, primarily lining up as the club's three-technique. He filled a variety of roles in Bowles' pressure packages, creating advantageous matchups for the Buccaneers down the stretch.

He posted 4.0 sacks and showed up in critical moments for the club. Against the Lions in the Divisional Round, Kancey spearheaded the charge. Kancey made several momentum-shifting plays in the first half to hold Detroit to 10 points, including a third-down pass deflection on the Lions' first possession that led to an ensuing three-and-out, and a third-down sack on the Lions' last drive of the half. His athleticism bolstered the interior and added another dimension to Bowles' defense. Kancey solidified the line with first-step quickness and an imposing forward-charge.

On Tuesday, the Bucs concluded their seventh OTAs practice of the allotted 10 by NFL regulations and Kancey credits confidence and an understanding of the defensive scheme to his ascension.

"Last year, I was confident, but I was not playing as fast as I should be," said Kancey. "By me knowing the whole defense and actually playing in the league against different teams and seeing different players and stuff, the confidence level for me is even way higher. I just know the room for improvement is way more and I know what I can give to the team."

Kancey has an insatiable desire for hunting opposing quarterbacks and spent much of the offseason buried in sack highlight videos on YouTube. As a main fixture in Bowles' defensive front, Kancey has his eyes narrowed on a goal for 2024: double-digit sacks.

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