-Whew, what a week. The Buccaneers wrapped up Phase III of the offseason program with their last OTA practice on Friday. Due to NFL regulations, there still wasn’t contact allowed, but there is a lot to be taken from just the energy the team is exhibiting and the potential they have under this new coaching staff. If you want to read more on that, I’ve got you covered (just like I have for every OTA practice) right here.
-He’s hereeeee. He being defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who met the Tampa Bay media for the first time on Friday. He was very insightful with his answers to questions ranging from how he looks forward to fitting in with Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles’ defense to how much longer he hopes to play in the NFL and how he proposed to his now fiancée in France earlier this week.
Scott Smith wrote about how Suh hopes to fit in to Bowles’ defense and the key is flexibility. Suh is a big body with a lot of power, but that shouldn’t relegate him only to the three-technique position on the defensive line. While with the Los Angeles Rams last year, Suh spent a majority of his snaps in the nose tackle position and prides himself on his own versatility. Even at 32 years old, his malleability still exists and he wants to continue to better himself through playing various positions.
"If you want to look back at last year, I played every single position,” Suh said. “I pride myself being able to play 3-technique, nose, end, nine, seven, six – whatever you need me to do," he said. "I think it’s important for me as a professional [to] continue to grow and evolve in [those] aspects."
In Bowles’ defense, Suh won’t be asked to play a different position than he’s used to and stick with it. No, he’ll be asked to play various positions… just like everyone on the line. And underneath. And in the secondary. Bowles’ defense relies on creating confusion. What better way to create confusion than to put guys where the opponent isn’t expecting them? Or to bring pressure from all over? Suh is touted as being a ‘disruptor’ specifically, one of the biggest compliments you can receive as a defensive lineman. It’s because he’s aggressive on the field, and for good reason. You’ve heard the phrase, “Games are won and lost at the line of scrimmage.” Well, Suh seems to be a big proponent of that with his views on the importance of being aggressive as a defensive lineman.
“I think just an aggressive and very intended force changes the line of scrimmage,” Suh said. “That’s something that I learned at a very early age, when I was with Bo Pelini at Nebraska. I think he changed my game from allowing me to prove that I could play in this league and then kind of going from there. So, I think as a collective group when you have four guys and really your front seven just attacking and moving that line of scrimmage back into the offense’s lap, you’re doing your job and you’re being a big force.”
He's been a powerful force consistently, too. Suh has only ever missed two starts in his nine seasons in the NFL. He credits his ‘team’ for why he’s able to remain so durable. He was asked on Friday how much longer he wants to continue to play and he offered up a great anecdote for what his decision is contingent on.
“I will go back to a Jim Rome interview with Tony Gonzalez and I will never forget these words Tony Gonzalez said, ‘Mentally and physically are the two things that are going to allow me to continue to play this game at a high level, but mentally is where I’m going to find myself wanting to retire,’” Suh recalled. “And so, for me physically I can play as long as I want to, and I think the team that I have, that works with me day-in and day-out affords me that, as well as the hard work that I’ve put in in the offseason. So, it’s from a mental aspect and really having aspirations that I have outside of sports and that’s really in the business world. I’ve been fortunate to have some amazing mentors and so it’s when I decide I’m really looking for an opportunity to kind of move in a different direction and have my main focus in life being business and entrepreneurship and whatnot.”
One of those mentors he’s referring to is more than likely billionaire Warren Buffett, by the way. Buffett has been seen throughout Suh’s career sporting one of the defensive tackle’s jerseys in the stands at games and the two are close. When you have that guy as a mentor in the business and entrepreneurship space, how much must you love the game of football to continue to stay in it? Yeah, think about that.
I’ll leave you with one more thing along those lines. Suh isn’t young, he’s 32 years old and was asked if he still has the same fire for the game at this stage in his career. His answer?
“If I’m on that football field between those white lines, there’s lots of fire.”
Raise your hand if you’re ready for football to start right now.
-Speaking of football starting, today marks 100 days until the Bucs kick off their season. We’re almost into just double digits, guys. Hang in there.
-On Thursday, the Buccaneers hosted their seventh annual Cut for a Cure event benefiting the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Between contributions from Buccaneers staff and players, the organization was able to raise over $100,000 to go towards cancer research in the Bay area while pediatric cancer patients and survivors got to give hair makeovers to their favorite Bucs players. It’s one of the best events of the year at AdventHealth Training Center and if you want the full story, click here.
-A brand new episode of The Bay premiered yesterday, highlighting left tackle Donovan Smith’s Bowling for Autism event a couple weeks ago. The Bay takes you out in the community with your favorite players to see what they like to do when they’re in Tampa. The full episode is below.