"He's done, honestly, much better than anybody would have anticipated," defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan said. "He's played well; not just okay or good enough. He's actually been productive."
Te'o-Nesheim, who is a third-year pro, came into the season with limited experience, having made one career start. But he's started seven games for Tampa Bay so far this year and has 20 tackles, including two sacks.
Clayborn tore a ligament in his right knee back in September, which ended his season, and that thrust Te'o-Nesheim into a more prominent role within the Bucs' defense. He picked up one of his sacks in Tampa Bay's 34-24 win over San Diego last weekend.
The Bucs have won three games in a row, which has them back above .500 at 5-4. They travel to face the Carolina Panthers this Sunday.