Last Chance For Spence?

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The rise and fall of converted OLB Noah Spence has been one of the more depressing stories to come out of One Buc Place in recent years. We all remember it like it was yesterday. Spence came into rookie minicamp in 2016 and began turning heads of veterans and coaches alike.

Robert Ayers would often recall the “anger” he would play with on the field. He took that momentum and ran with it for a wild rookie year. In 16 games, playing rotational minutes, Spence produced 22 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks, 12 QB hits and 2 FF’s. He also took home Defensive Rookie of the Month in November 2016. We would later learn that Spence played through much of his first season with partially torn labrum.

All signs were pointing upward for the defensive end out of Eastern Kentucky. But this is where Spence’s luck would eventually start to run out. After slimming down in the 2017 offseason to play quicker off the edge, Noah hit a road block in his playing career when he went down again in October of 2017 with a second shoulder injury. This time, he would be placed on injured reserve and saw his season cut short. In 6 games before the injury, Noah produced only 1 sack and 1 FF, leading many to believe he didn’t completely recover from his injury the season before.

Now with enough time to completely heal from his injury and a new resurgence heading into the 2018 offseason, the former Ohio State standout knew this had to be his year. With his age and rookie season being his two best attributes at this point, Noah spent 2018 rebuilding his body in order to take on a full 16- game season. Determined more than ever now to prove his rookie season was not a bust, Spence now found himself buried on a depth chart now bolstered with the likes of Vinny Curry and Jason Pierre-Paul from free agency. Unfortunately, his season last year did not go as planned. Although healthy for the entire season, the now 24 year old wound up playing in only 12 games and was even a healthy scratch on a few Sunday’s. The former Defensive Rookie of the Month played like an absolute shell of his former self, sometimes completely disappearing from games and never managed to stand out on a 5-11 Tampa defense.

Insert Bruce Arians. The highly regarded coach spent his first days as the Bucs Head Coach binging player tape and evaluating his new roster. After a few weeks of watching the film, Arians discovered something that many were probably aware of… Spence isn’t a natural defensive end. Who knew!? A coach who has a knack for putting players in a position to win discovered his undersized DE probably shouldn’t have his hand in the dirt come game day.

With this being said, Noah has bought himself another season to prove his worth as a former second round pick. With the newly converted OLB turning only 25 this season, he has youth and the confidence of his new head coach to shine in the Bucs new 3-4 defensive scheme. The talent is all there. Will Spence regain his rookie year magic?

 

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