By Tom Krasniqi


He’s the best player on the Buccaneers— with all due respect to LaVonte David.  He wants to the a Buccaneer for life and the feeling is mutual.


But Gerald McCoy brought his poker face on Tuesday after the team wrapped up their OTAs practice.  He asked if he’s been approached by the team regarding a new contract.


“I don’t know nothing about that,” McCoy said with a straight face.  “I just come to practice and work man.”


Hmmm, maybe he has two pair?  Three of kind?  Or he might have a full house.  McCoy has one year left on his rookie deal and is slated to make around $15 million this season.  Our own Rick Stroud reported recently that the Bucs had opened negotiations with McCoy’s representatives.  


When you look around the league, Bengals Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins could be the starting point in negotiations.  Atkins signed a 5 year extension last season worth an estimated $55 million.


McCoy has named a 1st team All-Pro last year and has gone to two straight Pro Bowls.  His main focus right now is trying to learn Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 defense— and not the contract.


“Once everybody figures it out and the ins and outs of it, it’s gonna be scary,” McCoy said.


Conditioning appears to be a prerequisite for the defense.  Lovie wants his team to run and hit.  McCoy says the defense has to be in tip top shape.


“Definitely run a lot,” McCoy said about key to making the defense go.  “Coach Smith said we would run but until you actually do it, you don’t realize how much you would run—how important it is and how critically they grade it.”


The success of the Tampa 2 defense is predicated on the play of the front four.  And the under-tackle is the pivotal player—think Warren Sapp back in the day.  Now, it’s McCoy.  And he’s embracing the new defense.


“ I love it man.  It’s up the field— penetrating [defensive] front,” McCoy said.  “Cover two coverage and it really just depends on the d-line to take care of the pass game.” 


As for the new contract, McCoy is keeping that under wraps.  The Bucs hope he can put the wraps on Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton this season.  McCoy knows the team wants to lock him up.


“That’s cool—that sounds good but hey, I’m not worried about that right now,” McCoy said.


The feeling is that McCoy will get a new contract before training camp begins in late July. 


News & notes:  

  • Lovie said WRs Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans (hamstring) are improving but both did not practice on Tuesday.  
  • With Evans and Jackson out, Chris Owusu took plenty of reps at WR for the starters.  Lovie has been extremely pleased with Owusu: “He’s been pretty good since Day 1.” 
  • Guard Carl Nicks (foot) is absent from OTAs.  Lovie: “No update.  He’s not here.  He’s not here for voluntary work.”  Doesn’t sound good.  
  • With Nicks not present, Patrick Omameh lined up at left guard with Oniel Cousins at right guard.    
  • Rookie WR Robert Herron caught the ball well during Tuesday’s practice session.  The 6th round pick out of Wyoming has struggled with his hands during workouts but he had a good day.  Herron beat CB Rashaan Melvin down the sideline for a long pass from Mike Glennon.    
  • Former Bucs coach Greg Schiano held joint practice sessions with the Patriots the last two years, but don’t look for Lovie to hold joint practices against other teams: “Nope, don’t plan on doing it.  I’m not one that buys into that.”