Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs not deterred by Lorig's injury
TAMPA - Like every other team in the league, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are diligent about watching the drills, charting the results and evaluating the performances at the NFL Scouting Combine. In the final evaluation, though, the Bucs don't rely entirely on those combine measurables. If they did, they never would have spent a seventh-round draft pick on Stanford defensive end Erik Lorig. Lorig was forced to skip the combine workouts and Stanford's pro day because of a right pectoral injury that continues to hamper him and could keep him off the field until training camp. That didn't bother the Bucs, though, because they base their player evaluations on what they see on game-day tape. And what they saw on Lorig's flat out stunned them."There were a couple guys in the draft whose motors just never stopped running, and Erik was one of those guys," Bucs defensive line coach Todd Wash said. "We saw that time and again. And, believe me, we looked at a lot of tape of him. "We even went back and evaluated his tape from the 2008 season just to be sure of what he could really do, and it was all there. This guy's got some real athletic ability." He may have more than many teams realize. After all, anyone who gave up on Lorig after he missed the combine and his pro day might not realize he also played a little tight end in college. That was during the 2006 season, Lorig's first with the Cardinal. He played in all 12 games at tight end that season, catching three passes for 21 yards before being switched to defensive end a year later. Of course, the fact Lorig played tight end in college shouldn't come as much of a surprise. A Parade All-American in high school, he was recruited not only by Stanford, but Notre Dame, USC and UCLA as a tight end. His days playing on the offensive side of the ball may not be over yet. Though the Bucs see him working primarily as a defensive lineman, they haven't ruled out the possibility of using Lorig as a tight end on occasion. "You are talking about a guy who played tight end for years," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "You only get 45 guys on game day, so who knows, he may actually show up and play a little tight end for us at some point." At this point, the 6-foot-4, 281-pound Lorig would be happy just to play anywhere. That pectoral problem has the potential to rob him of his entire rookie season, which probably would sour the Bucs a bit, too. Though they project him primarily as a left defensive end and occasional inside pass rusher, the Bucs believe it may be a year or two before Lorig is ready to take on regular game-day snaps. In the meantime, their plan is to put him on just about every special teams unit they have and to take advantage of his unique athleticism, which extends well beyond the football field. "I've been a surfer all my life," the Rolling Hills, Calif. native and resident revealed. "I competed as a kid a little bit, but gave it up to play football. But I still love it." Lorig said surfing at a young age helped him develop his balance and has aided him in football, where rival guards and tackles tend to have a hard time knocking him off his feet. The only things that have successfully knocked Lorig off his feet are the pectoral injury, which occurred while prepping for the combine, and a groin injury late last season. "Other than that I've been pretty injury-free," he said. "So I'm really anxious to get out there and show them what I've got, what I can do for them." Thanks to their tape study, the Bucs already have a pretty good idea.
Reporter Roy Cummings can be reached at (813) 259-7979.