McCoy, Bradford Have Mutual Admiration

Gerald McCoy knows a little “secret” about his buddy Sam Bradford that isn’t widely known: Bradford is faster than everyone realizes.  A LOT faster.

“I don’t mean he’s a little bit faster…he’s way faster than people think, and he can outrun you because of his long stride,” said McCoy on Friday, two days before the two former Oklahoma Sooner teammates will meet on an NFL greensward for the second time.  The first and third overall picks in the 2010 draft, McCoy and Bradford opposed each other just seven weeks into their shared rookie season, with the Buccaneers rallying for an 18-17 win over the Rams.

The Bucs and Rams meet again on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, and the two former Sooners have progressed nicely in their respective careers since that first meeting.  Having his first fully healthy season, McCoy has emerged as a Pro Bowl contender and one of the league’s most disruptive interior linemen.  Bradford is putting up career-best numbers in almost every category and has helped the Rams post a 4-0-1 record so far in the competitive NFC South.

Though this week might be a minor exception, both McCoy and Bradford are pleased to see each other doing so well in the NFL.

“Sam is a great player, I believe,” said McCoy, noting that his former teammate endured an injury last year and has had a lot of upheaval around him this year at receiver and along the offensive line.  “He’s kind of got to go with the flow, weather the storm and play the cards he’s dealt.  But he’s one of those guys if you give him time and let him get comfortable, he’ll kill you.  He’s a deceptive athlete.  He’s a very smart, an intelligent guy, so we’ve got to be on it.”

The last time the Buccaneers played at home, McCoy set up permanent residence in the opposing backfield, racking up two sacks, three quarterback hits and three tackles for loss against the Eagles.  Bradford has recently studied that tape, of course, and he knows he’ll have to keep an eye on #93 this Sunday.

I think Gerald’s playing at a really high level right now,” said Bradford.  “Watching the tape, he seems to show up a lot.  In our scouting report, he is one of the guys who is highlighted.  I think we all understand how talented he is and how he can take over a game on the interior line.  So he’s someone that we’ve got to be aware of.  I’ve got to be aware of him and I’d really like to get out of this game without him hitting me.”

That might be the first point on which the two actively disagree.  McCoy may be very fond of Bradford, but he’d still like to dish out some good-natured punishment this weekend.

“I have to hit him,” said McCoy with a laugh.  “I didn’t hit him my rookie year, so this year it’s mandatory, because I don’t know when the next time I play him will be.”

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