ST. PETERSBURG – First impressions are always important. Especially when you’re on a job interview.
It’s safe to say that former Gators defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. has made a good first impression on the prospective employers who have spent the week watching him work at the East West Shrine Game practices.
“That kid’s a boy dog,’’ Arizona Cardinals defensive line coach and East team head coach Brentson Buckner said of Cox. “What I mean by that is, he’s got a mean streak in him, and you can’t teach that.
“You can teach a kid all the technique you want and make all the adjustments to his game but when he puts that helmet on he’s got bad intentions for the guy across from him and that’s great.’’
Cox comes across his mean streak naturally. His father was known for his mean streak during a 12-year NFL playing career in which he played in three Pro Bowls and was named All Pro three times.
The elder Cox also won a Super Bowl as a member of the 2001 New England Patriots and he could be on the cusp of winning another in his current capacity as the defensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons.
This then is a big week for the Cox family. Much is at stake for both father and son, the latter of which has more to prove than his ability to play tough.
His senior season at Florida was hampered by thumb, hand and at the end, ankle injuries. So proving he’s past those issues and capable of helping an NFL team immediately, is a big part of Cox Jr.’s weekend goal.
“I really just want to show these scouts here that I’m healthy and what I’m capable of doing when I’m healthy,’’ Cox said. “I mean, I believe I’m here for a reason, and that I’ve earned my way here.’’
There’s no denying that. Cox was one of the more productive run-stopping ends in the SEC during his time at Florida, where he racked up 20.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles across 35 career games.
He also recorded 10 sacks during his Gators career, so there should be room on an NFL roster somewhere for him as a left end or a rotational run stopper on the inside. After all, he’s got his father’s mean streak.
“He’s definitely got the pedigree, and that’s good,’’ Buckner said. “But the thing that’s been most impressive is that he’s willing to work anywhere along the defensive line.
“We asked him the other day, ‘Let’s go work at three technique and sew how you look there,’ and he said, ‘OK, let’s go.’ You like to see that in a young man, so he’s made a good impression here for sure.’’