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Brentson Buckner wants Gerald McCoy to make another leap with mental game

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 26: Gerald McCoy #93 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

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Gerald McCoy has proven to be one of the most consistent and productive defensive tackles in the NFL since being selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

McCoy has posted at least five sacks in each of the last six seasons for the Buccaneers, including at least seven sacks a year from 2013-16.

Now that McCoy is 30 years old, new Buccaneers defensive line coach Brenton Buckner wants to ensure McCoy can remain capable of producing at a high level for many years to come. Getting McCoy to take his mental understanding of the game to an even higher level is the achievement Buckner is chasing.

You get to the point of being 30 years old -- it’s not about your ability now, it’s about playing the game up here,” Buckner said pointing to his head, via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com.

“I sat down and watched film with him and I told him, ‘The way you’re going to improve your game is to mentally evolve your game even more.’ And he wants it. He’s hungry for it, because for nine years, eight years, he’s done the same thing and been successful but it hasn’t shown up for the team. So now I’m challenging him personally to go to that next level. Not get stronger, not get faster -- play the game up here. Know what they’re going to do to you before it happens. Be smarter about it.”

McCoy’s six sacks accounted for over a quarter of Tampa Bay’s entire sack output last season. He’s been named to the Pro Bowl six times in eight seasons with the Buccaneers and is a three-time first-team All-Pro. He has a chance to remain highly productive due to the additional talent surrounding him up front this season. The additions of Vinny Curry, Beau Allen, Mitch Unrein and first-round pick Vita Vea make Tampa Bay’s defensive front much more imposing.

If McCoy can still raise his game on top of the additions made around him, Buckner and the Buccaneers will likely be quite pleased with the result.