At the 2010 draft, the Lions had to make a choice between defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. Not quite a Manning-Leaf conundrum, the decision for Detroit still wasn’t as easy as it appears to be in hindsight.
If McCoy has anything to say about it, the guy who to date has played Leaf to Suh’s Manning could close the gap in 2012.
“Gerald McCoy is out here on a mission,” Bucs defensive tackle Roy Miller said, per Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune. “He’s going against two Pro Bowl guards every day in Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph, and he’s making plays all over the field. When you’ve got a guy with that kind of talent on a mission like that, something dangerous could happen.”
So far, the only danger (grave or otherwise) has been directed at McCoy. He has been limited to 19 regular-season games in two years, thanks to bookend torn biceps in 2010 and 2011. Last year, McCoy made it only to the team’s sixth game of the season.
But with Suh, the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year, taking a step back in 2011, the door is open for McCoy to make some noise in 2012.
“I just go out and play with a relentless effort, and that makes everyone around me better,” McCoy said. “That’s what I’ve always been taught to do.’’
The new boss is a believer. “I think he’s got elite get-off,” coach Greg Schiano said. “I haven’t been around a lot of guys like that, maybe two or three. He’d be further along if he hadn’t had the injuries the past two years. I think he can be a really special player.”
Of course, injuries have a way of keeping a guy from performing at the highest possible level. McCoy needs to stay healthy, regardless of whether his past problems were a fluke or whether former coach Raheem Morris was on to something when he blamed McCoy’s biceps injuries on poor tackling technique.
If McCoy can, then maybe he can avoid sliding into “bust” territory — and even make the Lions wonder a little whether they took the right guy.