There is no doubt that Noah Spence is coming off of a very disappointing sophomore season. The pass rush specialist has really been hurt ever since he has arrived in Tampa Bay. He did however play through a torn labrum and a dislocation during his rookie season, but this past year’s injury was much worse. Spence injured his shoulder during the team’s second game of the season against the Minnesota Vikings. He tried to play through it like last year, but the shoulder popped out a total of four times during a four week span and the pain was unbearable. It was also evident that this injury was much worse because he wasn’t producing on the field and looked like a shell of his rookie year self.
During his rookie season, Spence recorded 5.5 sacks with 4.5 of them coming after he dislocated the shoulder against the Denver Broncos in week four. Of those 5.5 sacks, three of them caused a fumble, which bodes well for the future. You want your defensive ends to not only get to the quarterback, but to get to the ball as well and it seems Spence prioritizes that. Again, in the one game Spence was healthy last season, he recorded a sack fumble against the Bears in week two, which was the Buccaneers first game.
Unlike his rookie season, Spence opted to get the surgery months earlier and it has allowed him to be fully healed for the offseason program. There has also been a noticeable change to Noah Spence’s physical appearance. He is up 30 pounds from last season and his current weight is 257 pounds, up from 228 last offseason. Head coach Dirk Koetter confirmed today to the media that Noah Spence is on track for full participation during camp.
“I’m pretty sure Noah’s ready to go,” Koetter said. “Noah’s just had a hard time staying healthy, two unfortunate injuries. He did all he could do, he got them fixed. So, he’s taking care of his body. He has his weight where it needs to be. Physically, he looks great out there.”
It’s a difficult situation for any athlete when they have to spend all off season rehabbing an injury instead of improving their game. Spence wanted to avoid another off season of rehab, which is why he elected to have the surgery in late October. He sure looks back on that decision and has no regrets.
”I think that was a blessing. I think that was the biggest thing, that it happened during the season and not after the season so I wouldn’t be struggling to get back for the next season,” Spence said. “Since it happened during the season I had all of the rest of the season to get healed up and a whole offseason to stay right, keep rehabbing and get ready for the season.”
The defensive line, of course looks much different then last season, and Spence is one of the few players who actually remained on the roster. You could tell he is fired up about playing with guys like Vinny Curry and Jason Pierre Paul. Spence also isn’t the first Buc to comment on the different feel that One Buc has heading into Mini Camp next weekend.
”There’s definitely more energy. I feel like everybody knows what’s expected now. We feel different. We feel like more of a team, I feel like,” Spence said. “We’re talking more, everybody’s trying to help each other out.”
It’s great to hear that members of the team feel closer and feel like they are more together, but ultimately results will prove if that is true or not. It’ll be interesting to see where Spence fits in on this new defensive line, but he clearly has the ability to get to the quarterback when healthy and he should help the Bucs not finish last in the league in sacks this upcoming season.