McDonald Removes “Complacent” From SpenceJuly 28th, 2014
The explosion off the Tampa Bay defensive line from new nose tackle Clinton McDonald was evident to those watching practice yesterday, the first of the season in pads.
McDonald, however, is a quiet guy off the field, very reserved around media but an open book and intensely driven with teammates.
Having a guy around like McDonald, who had 5 1/2 sacks in a part-time role with the Seahawks last season, is new experience for Akeem Spence, the Bucs’ second-year nose tackle.
Spence was gifted a starting job last season from the New Schiano Order. He played quite solid for a rookie, but Spence admits he wasn’t the player he should have been. Spence told Joe that McDonald’s presence has thoroughly overhauled Spence’s approach and attitude.
“I like Clinton because he pushes me, you know what I’m saying, just him coming here and us playing the same position and he pushes me. And also, I watch how he works and he made me take my game to another level because last year, you know, at times I got complacent,” Spence said.
But now just having a guy to compete with every day, plus a guy who I can ask a lot of questions. You know he played on the Super Bowl champs and had a big role with great players to learn from. Whatever I can pick off his brain is valuable, and there’s a lot to pick and it helps.
“Doing it every day. Being consistent with him. Not just like coming to work and having a great Monday. He comes to work every day and he’s consistent and hard in every drill, from the bag drill to the sleds. I just like, ‘I gotta be like that guy.’ He’s got six years in the league. So I’m trying to be like that guy. I’m just mocking everything he and [Gerald McCoy] does.”
Keep in mind Bucs general manager Jason Licht and friends already have noticed a change in Spence and claim he’s in a position to keep his starting job.
Of course, Joe had to dive deeper into why Spence thought he got “complacent” last year. Was it commonplace in the locker room after an 0-8 start? Was it backlash on coaches?
Spence said it was simply his immaturity and inconsistent drive because he had no competition, “I knew I was going to be out there the next week.” He said he got too relaxed in his role, like a player might be at times in college.
Joe loves what’s brewing at nose tackle. Defensive line depth has been a foreign concept in Tampa for far too long.