Gaines Adams is the first to admit he's underachieved with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
So when coach Raheem Morris singled out the defensive end on the opening day of training camp, saying Adams would be a flop if he doesn't post double-digit sacks this season, the third-year pro agreed.
"In football you need that. Players tend to get in their own element and do things that they want to do. They need to be called out sometimes. He's the coach. Whatever he says, goes," Adams said.
"I take it as a challenge. Being drafted fourth overall, that comes with the territory. It's year three for me. Obviously it's time for me to step up."
Reviving a once-revered pass rush is one of Tampa Bay's top priorities this summer. The Bucs feel one of the keys is for the 6-foot-5, 258-pound Adams to be more physical while relying less on speed to try to get to the quarterback.
"I've got no problem telling Gaines: 'Hey, if you don't do it this year, you're going to be considered a bust," Morris said.
"I told him that in a team meeting. I tell him that every once in a while when we walk off together, and he can't wait. He's embracing it and going to come out ready to play."
Adams had six sacks as a rookie and 6 1/2 a year ago, when an anemic pass rush contributed to a late-season collapse that cost the team a playoff berth.
The Bucs lost four straight following a 9-3 start, leading to the firing of former coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen.
Morris hopes a new system, installed by defensive coordinator Jim Bates and replacing the old Tampa 2 scheme, will help Adams become a more productive player.
"If you only have speed ... those offensive tackles are going to run you right through the pocket. That's what young defensive ends have to learn," Bates said. "This is a big man's league. If you can't bring power, if you can't bring the long arm with speed or use your hands ... speed won't get you many sacks in this league."
If there's any consolation for the Bucs, three other defensive linemen selected in the first round in 2007 have not made a major impact, either _ though none were picked as high as Adams at No. 4.
Jamaal Anderson (Atlanta), Adam Carriker (St. Louis) and Jarvis Moss (Denver) have combined for fewer sacks (12) in two years than Adams (12 1/2) has by himself.
Not that that makes Adams feel any better.
"I'm Gaines Adams and those guys are themselves. I really can't worry about what they do because they're not on my team. I wish the best for those guys, but I've got to take care of myself," Adams said.
"Coming into the league, everybody knows I just had speed. ... I'm just trying to add some more tools to my arsenal."
Morris believes strength and endurance are essential if Adams is going to realize his potential, sighting former Bucs end Simeon Rice as example of a pass rusher who flourished because of hard work.
"Simeon won by attrition. At one point you, being 330 pounds, are not going to be able to block me. I'm going to get a sack, fumble, and it's going to turn the whole game around. That's got to be Gaines' mentality," Morris said.
"There's no other thing that's going to define him other than production and sacks. Production speaks volumes. That's how we've always lived."
Note: Several players, including running back Derrick Ward (foot sprain) and receivers Antonio Bryant (knee) and Michael Clayton (hamstring) sat out Thursday's practice with what Morris described as minor injuries.