LONDON – Scheduling robbed Gerald McCoy a chance to play against his former team in Tampa Bay, but a trip across the Atlantic Ocean provided a fine setting for the defensive tackle to be a torn in the Buccaneers’ side.
After starting his Carolina career with 11 tackles and no sacks in five games, McCoy filled up the box score Sunday recording three tackles, including two for a loss, along with a pass breakup and 2.5 sacks — his most in a single game since he had a career-high 3.0 for the Bucs against the Falcons in November 2013.
“I was very happy for him,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “It was against his former team. Being a player, you want to be able to say, ‘Hey, we got you.’ I know he will.”
Actually, he won’t. At least not publicly.
As much as we media folks have prodded McCoy since he signed in Carolina this spring, he has refused to rant about the team that released him two months after new head coach Bruce Arians said the six-time Pro Bowler was “not as disruptive” as he used to be. Sunday’s disruption gave McCoy a perfect platform to send shots back the other way, but he again took the high road.
“I have nothing bad to say about the organization. They changed my life,” said McCoy, who was drafted by the Bucs with the third overall pick of the 2010 draft. “That organization’s the reason I’m a Panther. They gave me an opportunity to be in the NFL, which gave me an opportunity to have the success I’ve had, which is why Carolina wanted me to come over here.
“I love my guys. They know that. I’m always going to wish them the best because the Glazer family changed my life. Not just my life, but my family’s life. So I’ll never have anything to say about the Buccaneers organization.”
Cornerback Javien Elliott, though, did take more outward enjoyment in sticking it to his former club. Elliott, who spent three years with the Bucs before they let him become a free agent this offseason, snagged the second of Carolina’s five interceptions of Jameis Winston, a pick that led to a Panthers’ touchdown.
“It feels great to make plays against your former team and see the look on their faces,” said Elliott, who also tied a career-high with six tackles. “You can tell the disappointment anytime a team makes a bad play, but when it’s somebody that used to play for them, they’re like, ‘Dang!’ Plus, I went to school with Jameis. So I’ve got some bragging rights.”
Before earning a scholarship in 2015, Elliott was a walk-on at Florida State. He claimed he “always” intercepted Winston in practice during the 2014 season, but those weren’t like Sunday.
“Those picks in practice, they won’t be remembered. This will be remembered and I can hold it over his head,” Elliott said.
Just like McCoy could with the Bucs. And he probably does take some extra satisfaction internally. He just won’t tell us about it.
“In my press conference when I came here, I told you I didn’t come here for me. I came here to be the best me to help my teammates,” McCoy said. “There are a lot of guys in contract years. I want those guys to be successful. I’ve made my money and now I just want to win.
“I’m not worried about me, I’m worried about this team, and right now we’re on a four-game win streak, a lot of guys are playing great, and that’s the only thing that concerns me. Me? My personal stuff don’t concern me. I want to win. That’s why I came here and that’s what we’re doing.”
View photos from Week 6 as Carolina takes on Tampa Bay in London.