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Rookie Noah Spence could replace George Johnson on Bucs

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Goodbye, George Johnson.

Hello, Noah Spence?

The Tampa Bay Bucs lost Johnson to a hip injury he suffered Thursday, and he has been placed on injured reserve. It was a blow to Tampa Bay’s depth, because coach Dirk Koetter says that Johnson was playing well.

However, rookie defensive end Noah Spence continues to impress, which may soften the loss.

“Solid every day,” Koetter said. “Every day the kid flashes. For a rookie, he hasn’t hit any slump days so to speak where he’s had an off day. Every day he flashes, he’s got a nice motor, he pushes himself hard. I think (defensive end) Robert Ayers and (defensive tackle) Gerald (McCoy) are setting a great pace for all of our D-linemen. Those two, as hard as they’re pressing – just in that last red zone period, Ayers made two or three plays.”

Offensive tackle Donovan Smith, who faces Spence regularly, agrees with the praise.

“He’s doing good,” Smith said. “I went against him in college. He’s more so learning and knowing how to rush people now and having a plan coming off the ball, so that’s great. We try to make each other better [and] help each other out – some wins, some losses and we just go from there, help each other out.”


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

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