TAMPA — Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy might never be the meanest or orneriest player on the field, but the generally good-natured 2012 Pro Bowler is trying to play the game with a little more anger.
“Ninety-nine (Bucs Hall of Famer Warren Sapp) told me he needs to see more, I guess you could say (anger) from me,” McCoy said. “He said I don’t necessarily have to be angry, but it needs to look like I’m angry.”
McCoy certainly showed an angry side in Sunday’s 41-28 victory against Atlanta. After Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan slipped through his hands on a play, McCoy got up off the ground and screamed “Dang it. Daaaaaaaang it.’’
As angry as McCoy was then, he had reason to be quite happy after recording three sacks, three tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and a pass breakup. It was easily McCoy’s most productive game, at least statistically, and he expects more like it.
“My knowledge of the game, knowing what’s coming at me (has improved),” McCoy said. “And, really, (I’m) being more physical. It’s my ‘want to’ that’s going up. I’m just trying to improve on my physicality.”
Bucs coach Greg Schiano has seen improvement from last year, which was McCoy’s first full season in the NFL after two injury-marred seasons.
“Coming off the injury two years ago, he had dominating get-off and had a really good year,” Schiano said. “Now he’s taking that and incorporating that into different things, different techniques.
“His game has grown and I think his mental approach has grown, as well. He just keeps getting better. That’s the hard thing, really, for talented guys, to keep pressing themselves to get better. But he does.”
When Keith Tandy first made the transition from cornerback to safety last year, he realized immediately his new position required him to make some physical changes to his game. What he didn’t realize was it also required some mental alterations.
“You have to be a lot more vocal at safety,’’ Tandy said “You see things back there that guys in front of you don’t see, so you have to call out formations and routes to the line and the linebackers. ...That’s one thing that Dashon (Goldson) is always telling me when I’m in there: “Talk to them, Keith.’ ”
Goldson is suspended for Sunday’s game at Detroit for a helmet-to-helmet hit against Falcons WR Roddy White last week, which means Tandy will be flying virtually solo.
It’s a difficult spot for a second-year pro still learning his new position, but the Bucs thinks the sixth-round draft pick out of West Virginia is ready for the challenge.
“He’s really smart,’’ defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan said of Tandy, who played extensively when Goldson missed games against Carolina and Seattle with a sore knee. “He can digest a game plan and put it in practice immediately.
“He’s one of those guys who is really good at everything, but maybe isn’t a wow-spectacular type player at any one part of the game. But he’s good in run support, can tackle, he’s athletic. We put him in there; we’ll be fine.’’
Better safe than sorry
Mason Foster has not missed a game since the Bucs drafted him in the third-round draft out of Washington in 2011, but is in danger of missing Sunday’s game.
Foster sat out a second consecutive day of practice Thursday because of a concussion. While Foster and the Bucs think he is slowly getting better, Foster said he can’t afford to take chances with his health.
“It’s tough to deal with something like this,’’ Foster said. “I never had anything like it. But at the same time I have to look out for my future and make sure I’m able to play down the road and not get seriously hurt.’’
The Bucs have won two games in a row for the first time in a year, and CB Darrelle Revis thinks that is largely the result of a team finally developing some continuity and confidence.
“As a whole, as a team, we’re gelling,’’ Revis said. “Everybody’s making plays. We’re making plays in all three phases: special teams, offense and defense. Right now, I think we’re playing great. We’re doing what we need to do during games.’’