Adams eager to help Bucs pass rush
Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
TAMPA - Soft-spoken and humble, Gaines Adams is not one to make bold predictions.
Tampa Bay's first-round draft pick is confident he can provide immediate help for the Buccaneers' pass rush, though, and is eager to prove the team made a wise decision selecting him fourth overall.
Coach Jon Gruden challenged the former Clemson standout to "lead the NFL in effort'' as a rookie. Adams said Monday that's the least he can do.
"He's giving me this opportunity,'' Gaines said. "The only way I can repay him is to give him what he wants.''
The 6-foot-5, 258-pound defensive end was considered the best pure pass rusher in the draft and is expected to learn from, and compete for playing time with, the player he eventually will replace, Simeon Rice.
Adams grew up in Greenwood, S.C., a fan of the Bucs' highly regarded defense and, in particular, the 33-year-old Rice, who ranks second among active players with 121 career sacks in 11 seasons.
Rice, coming off a shoulder injury that kept him out of eight games in 2006, has one season left on a contract calling for a base salary of $7.25 million this year.
"It's going to be a dream come true to work with him,'' said Adams, last season's Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year.
A self-described quiet guy who got a late start in football because his mother preferred he play basketball, Adams followed an unlikely path to becoming the top defensive prospect in the draft.
He played eight-man football at a small high school, where there were only 12 players on the team. He made the transition to 11-man competition during a year of prep school, then headed to Clemson, where he was a two-year starter and finished tied with Michael Dean Perry for first on the career sack list with 28.
"He has a quiet demeanor about him, but you can be quiet and still be a darn good football player,'' Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. "He doesn't play quiet when the ball is snapped, and that's the most important thing.''
Adams' speed makes him a natural to play right end, although the Bucs haven't ruled out the prospect of him playing some on the left side.
Gruden and, Kiffin agreed he will benefit from learning from veteran defensive linemen like Rice, Kevin Carter and Greg Spires, the incumbent starter at left end.
"He's a better pass rusher than he is a run player. But it's not too hard to teach. We can do that,'' Kiffin said. "I can't teach speed. I can teach and improve technique. But he has God-given ability to rush the quarterback.''
Adams, who led Clemson with 12.5 sacks as a senior, talked about how gratifying it is that all the hard work in prep school and college is paying off.
He also reflected on how devastated he was to find out someone leaked that he and two other Top 10 prospects acknowledged during team interviews at the NFL scouting combine that they experimented with marijuana.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell apologized to the players and warned that clubs leaking confidential information on prospects will be disciplined.
"I was just being honest. I don't do drugs,'' Adams said, adding that the experimentation occurred while he was in high school.
"It was very shocking. When I carry myself, my name is a good name. That's what I want people to know about me is a good name,'' Adams said. "I was hurt that the whole world saw it. Maybe some people might still think that. ... I don't want people to think I'm that guy.''
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