TAMPA, Fla. — Offseason changes have intrigued one former high-profile Tampa Bay Buccaneers player: Warren Sapp.
Sapp, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 3, stopped by One Buc Place on the first day of training camp Thursday and shared his thoughts on the current team. He was present for his duties as an NFL Network analyst, but the former defensive tackle who played for Tampa Bay from 1995-2003 did not shy away from offering opinions about the current group wearing pewter on red.
“I love this team,” said Sapp, who had seven Pro Bowl appearances and was named an All-Pro six times. “But I want to see that (defensive) front come. I’m issuing a challenge to (defensive end) Da’Quan Bowers: Last time I checked, if you wore pewter and red, you hunted the quarterback here.”
Tampa Bay’s defense has received most of the attention this offseason, a year after owning a split personality when it ranked first in rush defense (82.5 yards per game) and last in pass defense (297.4 ypg). Free-agent additions of safety Dashon Goldson and cornerback Darrelle Revis have received headlines, but the Bucs expect defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to accept a larger leadership role after the retirement of veteran defensive back Ronde Barber in May.
On Wednesday, McCoy said he reported to camp 10 pounds lighter than his goal weight. The fourth-year player is listed at 6-foot-4, 300 pounds. Sapp sees potential for growth in the returning Pro Bowl talent.
“Looks can be deceiving,” Sapp said of McCoy.
“Trust me, he’s just getting himself in great shape. Because the one thing you do realize is after you have a Pro Bowl year, they are going to circle you. They are going to circle him. They are going to circle (Houston Texans defensive end) J.J. Watt. They’re going to circle all those inside guys, ‘Now, let’s see what you do.’ … Trust me, they do different things to you.”
Sapp had opinions about the Bucs’ offense as well. He was impressed with a line that includes the return of guards Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph, who have four Pro Bowl appearances between them. He called the front five “the scariest part” and added that “those boys can move and mash you with the best of them.”
Unlike some outside the region, however, Sapp does not buy rookie quarterback Mike Glennon as a potential threat to incumbent Josh Freeman. Sapp called comparison between the two a “fake competition,” adding that he was eager to see Freeman’s development in the player’s fifth season.
“They’re an offensive juggernaut, and that’s scary for a person who played Buc ball as many years as I did,” Sapp said. “To look at this offense and go, ‘Oh my God.’
“There’s no competition — give me a break,” Sapp continued when talking about Freeman and Glennon. “You want to say that your team’s getting better every day that you come out, but you don’t want to fake it with them. We’re watching the tape, and I can see if he’s doing the right progression and throwing the ball (where he should).”