"If you ain't got endurance, you better get some insurance..."
Muhammad Ali, circa 1970-71
I was one of the lucky ones who spent more than my share of time in the Muhammad Ali camp, back in the day, thanks to the late great Angelo Dundee.
We were on spring break, staying with Angelo and of course we'd pass our mornings at the Fifth Street Gym. After one of his training sessions, Muhammad climbed out of the ring and spouted the above words of wisdom to us, directing it at any would-be opponents.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are taking that advice, apparently, when you look at the defensive tackle positions and the eight players currently on the roster.
Let's take a quick roll call:
Gerald McCoy, last seen taking 400 people to see "The Avengers."
Brian Price, the man with the horrible hamstrings.
Roy Miller, the third-round draft pick who has yet to impress anyone.
Frank Okam, biggest of the bunch, "Mount Okam." Unfortunately, mountains don't move and Frank isn't very mobile either.
Amobi Okoye, former first-round draft pick, great free agent addition.
Gary Gibson, former Ram, former Rutgers player under Schiano, experienced veteran.
Jordan Nix, newcomer, undrafted free agent out of the University of North Carolina, 6'3", 295 pounds.
Myles Wade, newcomer, undrafted free agent out of Portland State, 6'1", 300 pounds.
That's eight for now, the final roster number for this position will probably be five.
The guys who look to be the solid "insurance policy" for the defensive tackle position are Okoye and Gibson.
There may be more to come—you never know who might be released after June 1. You never know what salary cap casualties might catch the eye of Mark Dominic and Schiano.
With Okoye and Gibson in the "insurance" category, McCoy and Price are still the unknown, the X-Factor, the wildcards, if you will.
Fans love McCoy, and why not? When was the last time Warren Sapp treated 400 people to a movie? McCoy also loves The Hulk character from the movie. Wouldn't it be nice if McCoy could be just a smidge as destructive as The Hulk when it comes to opposing defenses? And no, Gerald, you need not turn green.
We'll find out pretty soon about Price. Mum's been the word at One Buc Place. It's virtually impossible to predict what's going to happen with him. Price puts the "I" in "insurance.
Gibson is an interesting add-on. This scouting report refers to him as "Roy Miller with technique," which isn't a bad thing, but it's an indictment of Miller, who has been short on technique.
Which brings us to Miller, a player who simply hasn't lived up to expectations. He's in jeopardy because the new regime has no loyalty to him, unlike the past coaching staff. Basically, they HAD to keep him thanks to the fragility of McCoy and Price.
Okoye brings huge upside. He's still very young and may fall under that "needs better coaching" category which would pertain to most of the current Buccaneer roster. That's what Schiano was hired to bring to the table. Can Okoye rediscover his potential? He might be the guy who steps in for the ham-strung Price if he "ain't got endurance."
Wade has to be one of the more compelling stories on the current Buc roster. He's halfway to earning his Masters degree, he is a tireless worker, an overachiever and speaks Mandarin Chinese, so perhaps he can interpret for Aqib Talib. He is devoted to great projects like the Special Olympics—his sister Olyvia has Down Syndrome. Add up his accomplishments, and he's a Schiano type of player. He'll be one to watch when camp opens.
Nix may be a developmental player. He took a long route to get to the University of North Carolina. You would think Butch Davis has some insight into this player that perhaps no one else might. Perhaps this is one of the pleasant surprises that the Bucs desperately need.
That's your current crowd at defensive tackle.
Will there be more to come—more players, more competition?