TAMPA - Gerald McCoy tied the knot this past offseason, marrying his childhood sweetheart, Ebony, who didn't even make it through the honeymoon before finding out what life as a football wife will be like. During the couple's seven-day getaway to Tahiti, McCoy spent four days working out in preparation for the 2013 season. He would have done more had the Tahitian sands been a little more forgiving. "I tried getting out there to do this other 15-minute workout that I usually do inside, as well, but in that sand, uh-uh, that wasn't happening," McCoy said. "So, I just went back inside and laid down." McCoy spent almost as much time working on his conditioning as he did relaxing during his honeymoon, and his diligence yielded a notable physical payoff. McCoy walked into One Buc Place last week for the start of training camp weighing 25 pounds less than he did in April and 10 pounds less than the target weight the Bucs gave him.
Not only was the 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive tackle slimmer, he also was noticeably more cut throughout his upper body, the result of an intense fitness program that left the 2012 Pro Bowler with a grizzly bear build that belies his teddy bear personality. "He did change his composition a little bit, and I think it's all (a result) of how focused he is and how hard he's worked to get ready for this season," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "This guy is really focused." With five of his nine sacks coming last year, McCoy wants to prove his 2012 Pro Bowl season wasn't the fluke some think. He also wants to improve a pass rush that ranked 30th in the NFL with 27 sacks last year. The Bucs have failed to record at least 30 sacks in each of the past five seasons. McCoy believes it will take a unified effort for Tampa Bay to end its slump. "Last season, there was a lot of individuality going on up front," he said. "A lot of guys had spurts here and there where they did some good things, but that's not going to get it done. "The top teams in the league in sacks, they usually have a lot of games going on or they have guys coming at you in threes. And people ask, 'How are they coming in threes?' Well, it's because they work together. "So, that's been our main focus this offseason. We've rarely had any one-on-one rushers. Everything we're doing is about unity up front and I think we've made some good strides. We just have to keep pushing." McCoy is pushed by his desire for consistency, which was planted in his brain by a conversation he had this past offseason with 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Warren Sapp. "He said that if there is anything anybody could ever say about him it's that he was consistent, and that's what I'm looking for," McCoy said. He also got a pretty good push from Ebony. "We've known each other since we were kids and so she knows how I prepare and what football means to me," McCoy said. "And any time she sees me not going as hard as I can, she'll give me one of those little kicks and say, 'Tighten up.'?" This past offseason, when not honeymooning in Tahiti, McCoy went about tightening up his upper body and improving his conditioning in a rather radical way. McCoy did his workouts wearing a 25-pound weighted vest and a football helmet. "People don't come to training camp out of shape, but training camp is hard," McCoy said. "And so I was trying to figure out a way to simulate training camp. "The weight vest was kind of like wearing shoulder pads and the helmet is the helmet. It wound up working out pretty good for me because when we ran the conditioning test on Day One, I was like, 'Yeah, whatever.'?" Most Bucs coaches were impressed how McCoy ran the requisite 16 110-yard sprints. "He crushed it," defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan said. "Physically, from all the stuff he did in the offseason to get ready for this camp, he almost looks like a different person. But you know what? That can sometimes happen to guys like him. "Last year, he finally did it on the field. He had that success that everyone has been waiting for from him and that can sometimes be contagious. You get a taste of that or you go to the Pro Bowl like he did and you can get addicted to that. And now he just loves it and wants more of it, so he's going to break his back to get as much as he can." [email protected] (813) 259-7979 Twitter: @RCummingsTBO
Training camp schedule
Several practices at One Buc Place are open to the public, no ticket required. Admission and parking are free. Fans also can enjoy discounted concessions, autograph sessions and appearances by the Buccaneers cheerleaders and Captain Fear mascot. The team facility is located east of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
Practices open to the public (dates and times subject to change): Wednesday: 8:45-11:30 a.m. Thursday: 8:45-11:30 a.m. Friday: 8:45-11:30 a.m. Saturday: 8:45-11:30 a.m. Aug. 6: 8:45-11:30 a.m. Aug. 10: 10:10 a.m.-12:45 p.m.
Preseason schedule Aug. 8: Baltimore, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 16: at New England, 8 p.m. Aug. 24: at Miami, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29: Washington, 7:30 p.m.