Battle Percolating At D-Tackle, Licht SaysJuly 24th, 2014
Now this is interesting. Damn, Joe is fired up for training camp.
Lovie Smith is on record saying his nose tackle must be a pass rusher first. Run-stuffers need not apply on Lovie’s watch.
Second-year defensive tackle Akeem Spence was known as a run stuffer out of college when the Bucs drafted him last year, but once Greg Schiano saw Spence in pads, he said Spence had pass rush talent never before seen on tape. (Funny, though, how Schiano never seemed to get Spence to breathe on a quarterback.)
Now in comes Lovie Smith, and he quickly signs DT Clinton McDonald away from the Super Bowl champion Seahawks. McDonald had 5.5 sacks and has speed and get off.
So he’s going to replace Spence in the starting lineup, right? Well, Bucs general manager Jason Licht proclaimed tonight that Spence is very much in a battle with McDonald for a starting gig.
Licht told a WDAE-AM 620 audience and host Steve Duemig that Spence “is a heck of a football player” and “will battle it out with Clinton McDonald” for a starting job.
After his radio appearance, Joe asked Licht to elaborate on Spence, and the GM was quick to explain the competition that’s brewing.
“He just hasn’t taken his foot off the gas,” Licht said of Spence. “You know, we bring in Clinton and, essentially, the writing could have been on the wall that he’s no longer the starter, but he’s been working harder than anybody. So, it’s just fun to see that competition there so far in OTAs and I expect it to continue through camp.”
For some background on Lovie’s view of a nose tackle. Here’s what Lovie told Joe in March:
“Booger McFarland and Warren Sapp were the inside tandem, both of those guys had 3-technique or under tackle type ability. When I say under tackle ability, I’m talking about guys that are athletic, that can rush the passer. A lot of times you think of just a nose guard position as more of a run-support-only position. And that’s not the case,” Lovie said.
So if Spence is competing for a starting gig, then it’s clear the current regime sees pass rush ability in him, too. Wouldn’t that be something if Spence blossomed with improved coaching. The Bucs’ D-line depth would take a big step forward, and the legacy of the former GM would take a small step, too.