The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still about three months away from their next meaningful football game, so they don't see any reason to push defensive end Adrian Clayborn. They are limiting his work in offseason practices to individual fundamental drills, eliminating him from the more intense team segments. And that's just fine with Clayborn. Eight months removed from a season-ending right knee injury, Clayborn believes he's capable of doing much more at this juncture, but the projected starter at right end is happy just to back on the field. Or maybe fortunate is the better way to describe it. A first-round pick out of Iowa in 2011, Clayborn's knee injury left him more grateful for the game and what it offers. “I think the main difference between this year and last year for me is that I'm a little more appreciative of the game of football now and what I have,'' Clayborn said after Monday's first offseason practice session. “I don't want to ever take that for granted, because I realize now that all it takes is one play and you could be out. One play and it could all be over for you, so, you know, knock on wood.'' You can bet the Bucs are knocking. Once Clayborn, who led the Bucs in sacks with 7.5 as a rookie in 2011 was injured last season, it was pretty much all over for their pass rush. With Clayborn gone and offenses sliding their protection schemes toward tackle Gerald McCoy and left end Michael Bennett, the Bucs generated just 27 sacks, tied for third fewest in the league. And without much of a pass rush to worry about, opposing quarterbacks patiently picked apart Tampa Bay's defense, strafing it for 4,758 yards, the second most allowed in NFL history. The Bucs came within 38 yards of matching the 2011 Green Bay Packers, who gave up an NFL record 4,796.
Buccaneers not rushing DE Clayborn's return from injury
Tampa Tribune | May 23