Something To ProveJune 26th, 2014
Boy, a lot of players have something to prove on this Bucs squad. Where does Joe start?
There is defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, there is quarterback Josh McCown, there is left tackle Anthony Collins, there is running back Doug Martin. You could go up and down the roster and find guys with something to prove.
Chris Burke of SI.com believes Bucs fans need to look no further than the defensive line.
In a series on NFL players who need something to prove, Burke points a finger at defensive end Adrian Clayborn.
Burke: Adrian Clayborn, DE
Even though Clayborn bounced back from a 2012 knee injury to start 16 games and deliver six sacks last season, the Buccaneers opted not to exercise the fifth-year option on his contract, meaning that he could hit free agency after 2014. That decision sends a pretty clear message to Clayborn that the new, Lovie Smith-led coaching staff has its doubts about his future — or at least about Clayborn’s value at the $6.9 million his 2015 option would have demanded.
So Clayborn finds himself in a prove-it contract year, though the opportunities should be plenty in Smith’s defense.
The soon-to-be 26-year-old Clayborn is slotted in as the starting left DE for the Buccaneers, with newcomer Michael Johnson on the right side. How well Clayborn performs there ultimately will determine if Tampa Bay deems him irreplaceable or if he will limp into free agency next offseason. The Bucs would be thrilled to see Clayborn prove them wrong, because they have limited usable depth behind him — William Gholston may be ready for a larger role, but Da’Quan Bowers continues to be a disappointment.
Joe has a hunch Clayborn will turn things around. Yes, it was a very clear message when the Bucs did not pick up his fifth-year option, essentially saying, “Prove it.”
Clayborn showed promise his rookie year. Then in his second year, he blew up his knee. Not good. Last year, how did anyone expect Clayborn to rack up sacks when he was dancing around virtually every play like Beyonce in some crazy-arse stunt, not to mention the psychotic concept an allegedly sober person hatched to have Clayborn cover speedster Darren Sproles in pass coverage.
Just a hunch, the Bucs are going to craft defensive line play to get the most out of players like Clayborn, not waste their talents.