Four days does not make a career, and for Buccaneers rookie defensive end Noah Spence he certainly understands how quickly this game can be ripped from anybody, so he’s taking every advantage he can to make sure he meets his potential in the NFL.
Noah Spence, of course, is the young man who was a lock to be a first-round draft pick before drug abuse and deceit culminated in his dismissal from the Ohio State football program and the Big Ten athletic conference all-together.
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Like so many before him he had two choices to make: buck the system and live his life the way he was; or fix his mistakes and achieve the dreams he always had.
Fortunately for himself and the Bucs he appears to have chosen the latter and after spending a year in Eastern Kentucky he was selected by general manager Jason Licht in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft.
He hasn’t stopped grinding just yet though. Call it a redemption story or call it a comeback, Spence is locked in and feeling confident through the first stanza of his inaugural training camp.
When asked how he felt up to this point he told media members he felt good about what he was doing and reminded himself and others that at the end of the day it’s still football, just faster.
On day four the Buccaneers went full pads for the first time. It was an experience the rookie was waiting for.
"“I’ve been excited for that since I got here and now it’s here. It feels good to have the pads on.”"
While he may be happy to have pads on again it’s always a bit harder for young guys as rookies work to get up to NFL speed while simultaneously getting comfortable with their new schemes and coaches.
For a first year player it can be frustrating at times, but Spence voiced his confidence by saying,
"“I’m getting there. I’m still trying to get to my full speed because I’m still thinking a little bit when I come off.”"
For those watching the camp practices it isn’t just bravado being spoken by Spence. He’s not just a new guy who thinks highly of himself. Veteran Lavonte David was heard praising the edge rusher and many other people have been excited by what he’s been doing, including his own head coach.
Another sign the Buccaneers made the right decision when drafting the athlete with a troubled past is the work he’s been putting in to getting ready for his NFL debut. Speaking to ESPN’s Jenna Laine he informed her he had been putting himself through two-a-day workouts in preparation.
In addition to, or perhaps as a part of this prep work, he also spent part of the off-season at One Buc Place working out with All-Pro Gerald McCoy.
The hitting isn’t real yet so there haven’t been any stats recorded but the coaches have been working with Spence in what could develop to be the best pass-rushing line in the NFC South with the Spence and Jacquies Smith working the outside while McCoy and new Buccaneer Robert Ayers wreak havoc on the interior line.
Add a blitz from any of the team’s linebackers or safeties and it spells trouble for opposing quarterbacks, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
For now the good start to camp is just what fans of the franchise wanted to see and the excitement is only going to build over the next week and a half as Tampa Bay nears their pre-season opener against Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles.