TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t get a lot out of the 17th overall pick of the 2009 draft. Maybe they’ll get more out of the 16th pick.
The Bucs used the 17th pick in the draft on quarterback Josh Freeman. His career fell apart last season during a well-publicized feud with former coach Greg Schiano. Very quietly last week, the Bucs acquired the guy that was taken one pick ahead of Freeman.
That was Larry English. A defensive end at Northern Illinois, the San Diego Chargers drafted English with the intent of using him at outside linebacker. The position switch and injuries helped prevent English from ever producing anything close to what the Chargers had hoped. San Diego gave up on English just before the start of training camp.
English said his arrival in Tampa Bay represents a fresh start.
“I feel rejuvenated," English said. “I feel excited about this opportunity. In a lot of ways, I feel like it’s my first year all over again in the sense that I feel like I’ve got a new energy. I say that in the positive light in the sense of being reenergized. Situations happen and you get released; it makes you look inside yourself a little bit and really analyze the situations and what could have been handled better. It was a little bit of a hard time when I was in limbo, but now that I’m back learning and working every day, I feel really energized."
English said he doesn’t like to make excuses, but acknowledged that injuries prevented him from developing in San Diego.
“When you’re in a situation for a long time you can’t really see outside of it," English said. “It’s hard to be able to really analyze if the grass is greener or not. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. I like the spot I’m in right now and I’m excited about this opportunity."
In Tampa Bay, English is getting a look as a defensive end.
“I really do like the scheme a lot," English said. “I think I fit well in the scheme. As a defensive end in this scheme, it’s a lot about motor, it’s a lot about heart, it’s a lot about playing fast and getting off the ball. I definitely think that will work well for me."
English might be a long shot to make the roster. But he was a low-risk signing who possibly could bring big rewards.
“We’re always looking for outside pass rushers," coach Lovie Smith said. “We brought Larry in, hoping that he could give us some of that. In practice, the first day he was OK. The next day he was better. So we’re anxious to let him play. You might see him early in (Saturday’s preseason game at Buffalo). We want to see him against good competition to see exactly what he can do."