TAMPA, Fla. -- Perhaps the biggest question mark remaining for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is their pass rush.
It wasn’t very good last year and it’s not like the Bucs brought in any marquee players in the offseason. But the Bucs can’t afford to have a pass rush similar to last year’s.
"That’s not really an option," defensive end Adrian Clayborn said. "We have to get the pass rush going. The coaches expect it of us and we expect it of ourselves."
Clayborn might be the closest thing the Bucs have to an established pass-rusher. He had 7.5 sacks as a rookie in 2011. But Clayborn missed most of last season with an injury. When the Bucs let last year’s leading sacker, Michael Bennett, depart as a free agent, they gambled that Clayborn would be healthy and that third-year defensive end Da'Quan Bowers would emerge as more than a situational player.
Clayborn appears to be healthy. But Bowers remains a big question mark. Coach Greg Schiano has said several times that he would like to see Bowers play at a higher level more consistently. It’s unclear if Bowers even will be a starter. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim was working with the first team early in camp and the newly-acquired Trevor Scott has made a positive impression.
The Bucs also have Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who can provide a pass rush from the interior. But Clayborn said the addition of cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Dashon Goldson will have an impact, too.
“We have a guy like Revis and a guy like Goldson, that helps the rush out," Clayborn said. “It makes a guy pump fake or bring the ball down for a second, that’s when you get those coverage sacks."
Clayborn said it's up to the Bucs to silence the critics of the pass rush.
"We haven’t rushed that good in the past so they have reason to," Clayborn said. "We just have to prove them wrong."