TAMPA (AP) - Gerald McCoy grew up watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on television, admiring the play of Warren Sapp and envisioning himself becoming a dominant NFL defensive tackle, too.
The third pick in this year's draft out of Oklahoma never imagined the opportunity to realize his dream would come with a chance to learn from none other than his all-time favorite.
Mentor and pupil got together on the practice field one day this offseason, with Sapp giving McCoy a crash course on what to expect in training camp and what he needs to work on to have a chance to have a successful rookie season.
They plan to stay in touch with each other in coming weeks - and years.
"I worked out with him a little bit while I was still here at OTAs. Everything he showed me, I went and worked on it, worked on it and worked on it," said McCoy, who is being counted on to plug a hole that's existed in Tampa Bay's defense since Sapp left the Bucs following the 2003 season.
"He showed me a lot of minor things. He said personally, he can't do it in one summer. We have to keep working and keep working to get where he thinks I can be - just like he did. He just kept working, and eventually he got better until he was unstoppable. That's where he wants me to be, but he said it's going to take time."
The Bucs don't intend to bring McCoy along slowly. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound tackle was inserted into the starting lineup on the first day of camp, hours after agreeing to a five-year, $63 million contract.
Tampa Bay drafted UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price in the second round, believing he can help McCoy transform the defensive line into a dominant unit.
The Bucs ranked 27th in total defense in 2009, 27th in points allowed and tied for 26th in sacks.
The Bucs obviously liked what they saw of McCoy, 22, at Oklahoma, where he had 14 1/2 sacks in three seasons while playing the "three-technique" right tackle position in a scheme smiler to the defense run by Tampa Bay.
McCoy wants to continue building his relationship with Sapp, who played nine years with the Bucs and four more with the Oakland Raiders before retiring after the 2007 season.