Even injured, Gerald McCoy an important part for Bucs

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Tampa Bay Bucs’ defensive tackle Gerald McCoy isn’t completely healthy. But he’s good enough to play, which means he’ll be on the field Sunday when the Bucs play the Carolina Panthers.

McCoy, the team’s three-time Pro Bowler, will have to be good if Tampa Bay is to be effective against Carolina quarterback Cam Newton.

“That dude really might be Superman,” McCoy said. “His rookie year, he flew in the end zone three times against us. I’ve just seen him do like an Olympic flip the last week or two weeks ago. Basically he is landing on both feet. That’s why I say people like that are mutants.

“He shouldn’t be able to do that. He’s 6’6”, 260 [pounds] or whatever he is, runs almost as fast as the fastest dude on the field and he’s doing that. I don’t think it’s legal for him to be playing in the league. That’s not fair.”

All goofing around aside, McCoy says he’s healthy enough to play.

“If you can be out there you want to be out there,” McCoy said. “I can be out there, so I’ll be out there.”

Even limited, McCoy has something to offer the Tampa Bay defense, said defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.

“Like a lot of guys in the league at this point, he’s battling through different aches and bruises and some sort of pain,” Frazier said. “He’s doing the same thing. He’s battling, putting himself in a position where he can go out and play on Sunday. Our doctors have cleared him. He’s raring to go for this ball game this week. He’s not 100 percent, but there are a lot of guys who are playing that aren’t 100 percent and he joins that club.”

“It probably has (limited him) to some degree. To what degree, I don’t know. He’s getting better as time goes on, but he’s still a handful for anybody to block and it won’t be any different this weekend. He’s just not 100 percent.”

McCoy stopped short of calling his team’s battles with Carolina a rivalry.

“Rivalries go back and forth,” McCoy said. “They’ve been kicking our tail for the past four tries so I don’t see that as a rivalry, just a division opponent. In my opinion, rivalries go back and forth. They are always good games, but they have been dogging us the past four games, so it’s not a rivalry.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.