Bucs GM Tips His Cap To Clayborn, Spence

June 19th, 2014

akeem spence 0116aBucs defensive linemen weren’t allowed to touch — and certainly not hit — anyone during spring practices, but Bucs general manager Jason Licht didn’t hesitate to name the D-line as his standout bunch of the recently concluded OTA and minicamp sessions.

It’s the season of reading between the lines, so Joe finds this quite significant.

Licht made his proclamation last night in response to a question from the dean of Tampa Bay sports radio, Steve Duemig of WDAE-AM 620.

“Anybody stick out in your mind, an individual, unit or effort?” Duemig asked. Licht didn’t hesitate.

“I was impressed with that defensive line unit,” Licht said. “You know, Michael Johnson was in and out. We were making sure that he didn’t get injured any further; he had a little tweak. But Clinton McDonald, Gerald McCoy, obviously, and wow is he impressive. I mean maybe I shouldn’t be saying this during contract negotiations. But that whole unit, Clinton McDonald, Adrian Clayborn, Akeem Spence — those guys really, really were impressive, not just with their effort but their movement, their athleticism and just the speed that they are playing.”

Does it mean anything that Licht singled out five D-linemen? Maybe. Maybe not.

What’s most interesting is the praise of Spence. Lovie Smith has said his nose tackles are pass rushers first. The head coach doesn’t believe in run-stuffing D-linemen. So perhaps the Bucs are seeing the pass rush skills in Spence that the New Schiano Order claimed he had?

Keep in mind at Lovie’s news conference introducing Clinton McDonald and other free agents, Lovie was clear that McDonald won’t just be rushing inside. Lovie said he had the speed to rush from various positions.

So if McDonald gets some edge-rush looks, then maybe it would be Spence who slots inside to rush between McDonald and McCoy?

As for Clayborn, he split first-team reps at left defensive end with Will Gholston during the mandatory minicamp.

It’s going to be darn interesting to see how Lovie rotates his pass rushers and sets the depth chart. Joe can’t imagine that failing to get to the quarterback will be tolerated.

20 Responses to “Bucs GM Tips His Cap To Clayborn, Spence”

  1. Touch_Down_Tampa_Bay Says:

    They should play with the goal of being the first who gets 2 sacks in the game every game. This rotation is going to be nasty! Go Bucs!!!

  2. Meh Says:

    Spence did show some flashes of pass rushing ability last year. I still think he’s a backup-grade tackle, but I think he’s a GOOD backup grade tackle. I think McDonald ends up starting, but I feel pretty good with Spence available right behind him.

  3. Joseph Mamma Says:

    Man Michael Johnson’s already injured? Playing patty-cake in these walk-throughs? Not a real good signal in my opinion.

  4. flmike Says:

    I wouldn’t be to shocked to see the DE’s and NT rotated nearly every play if possible, I don’t see GMC coming off the field much, but if given the time you’ll see a fast rotation throughout the game, fresh legs are a defense’s best friend and an O-line’s worst nightmare

  5. Meh Says:

    I agree with flmike, we’re going to see a lot more rotations I think than we’re used to. Fresh legs = QB on his back.

  6. Jon Says:

    That’s great. Without Johnson the defensive line was still impressive. We add McDonald for all around depth and keep the sack total rising like last year. Maybe lovie can get all those previous picks to really shine?!! Clayborn, spence, gholston, and don’t forget means. Heck maybe even bowers, a guy can dream right?

  7. brandonbucfan Says:

    Question…did our DLine look that good OR is our OLine as bad as everyone thinks it is? Hopefully, the former!

  8. biff barker Says:

    Means is as big of a question mark as Bowers.

    It’s impossible to say otherwise at this point.

  9. Louis Friend Says:

    Bowes, Means, Gholston, Clayborn and Spence are all question marks. I think the hope is that 2 of them rise from the ashes of 2013 and claim their stake to be part of the rotation for the coming years. All of them won’t, but my money is on Clayborn to be one of them. And I just don’t see Bowers surviving camp.

  10. Lou. Says:


    Sine these are the days of reading-between-the-lines, any significance to the failure to mention Gholson or Means?

  11. Tom Says:

    Really pulling for Clayborn to have a return to his nasty rookie season and the Bucs have the wisdom to resign him. I think he’s got the opportunity to have a big year, as in he could be our secret sack leader.

    Johnson and McCoy will draw most of the double teams, and now in his second season after ACL surgery, AC should have a bit more of that “dog” that Raheem saw in him

  12. SAMCRO Says:

    During the off season I think we found out why Spence smiles all the time, but it’s OK in my book, as long as he can get to the QB with a smile on his face.

  13. ToesOnTheLine Says:

    “So perhaps the Bucs are seeing the pass rush skills in Spence that the New Schiano Order claimed he had?”

    Of course they do, even Lovie knows that Schiano knows how to draft NFL talent. Spence was a solid pickup in the 4th round and will help the Bucs either as a starter or at worst a quality rotational guy (I personally think he will eventually be the starter if not this year than next)

  14. BFFL Says:

    Spence had a very respectable rookie year. He was able to shed blocks and make place.maybe not sack-wise but I don’t think he had the coaching or scheme to help in that area. I’m not surprised at all that Licht mentioned his name. The kid has a bright future. It’s just too bad our ignorant local media doesn’t have enough football intelligence to notice.

  15. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Joseph Mamma Says
    ”Man Michael Johnson’s already injured? Playing patty-cake in these walk-throughs? Not a real good signal in my opinion.”

    Teams always say a player has a little “tweak” when they want to rest him. It cound be as simple as tired muscles needing to rest. In this heat, it is common.

  16. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Spence has promise. More so if he did not smoke weed. No matter how you feel about the topic, it is banned in the nfl and if he does it, it hurts the team when he gets suspended (and he’ll be suspended the first 4 games). It also lessons the value fans get for their dollar.

    Same as Goldson if he gets suspended.

  17. Orca Says:

    As for Michael Johnson’s rest time, it also allows guys like Steven Means and Chaz Sutton an opportunity to log some reps that they won’t be getting as much of in training camp. I’m sure they’d like to see what they have in those guys. They already have a pretty good idea what Johnson can do.

  18. John23 Says:

    Seahawks had a great rotation last year should be better for us this year.

  19. Thomas Says:

    Notice who he didn’t name? hey Bowers… For whom the bell tolls? It tolls for thee.

    Don’t get too comfortable.

  20. BoJim Says:

    A little weed is fine for most people but not for athletes. It makes you lazy.