Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs notes: Coaches have big plans for rookie Spence
Akeem Spence has played nose tackle before. He just hasn't played it the way the Buccaneers want him to play it. Not to worry, though. Spence has a few months to make the adjustment.
Make the adjustment he must, though, because the Bucs have big plans for their fourth-round draft pick out of the University of Illinois.
Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said this week that the Bucs are counting on the 6-foot, 307-pound former Florida state heavyweight weightlifting champion being their starting nose tackle.
That may not come as much of a surprise. The Bucs went into the draft still looking for a replacement for Roy Miller, their starter last year who left in free agency, and Spence seems like a perfect fit.
Physically, he is a virtual clone of Miller, and like Miller, he excels at stopping the run. The only difference is that Spence has yet to grow accustomed to playing the tilted nose style the Bucs employ.
That style calls for the player to line up at what is roughly a 45-degree angle to center or guard, and because he's never played that style before, Spence has some catching up to do.
“I've been working at it a lot here (in the rookie minicamp),'' Spence said. “Right now I'm just trying to get the details of it from the coach. You know, how they want me to shoot my hands and play the technique.
“It's different, but it's not too different. It's really just (lining up) a little differently. I don't think it's going to affect my play any as far as being able to get off the ball and use my strength.”
Phone a friend One of the first calls the Bucs made following the conclusion of the 2013 draft was to Arizona State CB Deveron Carr. Their timing was impeccable. So was their offer.
Knowing that several teams were on his trail, the Bucs offered Carr $20,000 to sign with them, and he accepted, but not just because the signing bonus was so handsome.
Brought to Tampa for a visit earlier in the draft process, Carr said he developed an affinity for the Bucs almost from the moment he stepped onto the property at One Buc Place
“The decision to sign with Tampa was made solely on them bringing me in for a visit and meeting the coaches and liking the coaches and getting along with the coaches,'' Carr said. “It was a different atmosphere.''
The feeling appears to be mutual. The Bucs love his size (6-foot, 195 pounds) and his speed (he ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash at his pro day), and it looks like he'll have a chance to earn a roster spot come training camp.
“He's long, he can run well and he plays press coverage very well,'' Bucs coach Greg Schiano said of Carr. “We need to work on him with his zone technique and some off stuff, but he's a real nice prospect.''
A fighting chance Schiano has been admiring former South Florida TE Evan Landi ever since Landi first attended one of the coach's summer football camps and it appears as though Landi will get a chance to continue impressing the Bucs coach.
Though Schiano made no promises, he sounded as if he planned to keep Landi around for a while following the two-day rookie minicamp that wrapped up at One Buc Place on Saturday.
“I was always a fan of his when we played against him,” said Schiano, who regularly faced Landi as the coach at Rutgers. “Now he has to learn the stuff and compete with the guys on the roster, but I think he's got the potential. He's going to get a shot.”
Sack master DE William Gholston, the Bucs' fourth-round draft pick, inadvertently registered his first sack as a Buccaneer during the team's rookie minicamp.
During a non-padded, one-on-one pass rush drill Saturday, Gholston beat his man and finished the play by taking down Dan Shamash, a football operations staffer who was taking shotgun snaps during the drill.
“That was pretty impressive,” Schiano said of Gholston's sack. “He did a nice job there, though I'm sure that quarterback didn't think so.”