By Tom Krasniqi

  

This has been one of the busiest off seasons in the recent memory for the Buccaneers.  The new coaching staff and players have been grinding for weeks through organized team actives (OTAs) and minicamp.

 

On Thursday, the Bucs wrapped up their three day mandatory minicamp at One Buc Place.  Head coach Lovie Smith praised his team’s work ethic throughout the offseason.   

 

“I know the names now, I know the positions,” Lovie said of the many new faces he’s getting acquainted with.  “I know where most of the guys came from.  We like the team.  We like the way they came to work everyday for voluntary work—and we like the way they came to work this week for mandatory work.”

 

It’s not an easy process when you have a new coach with new systems on both sides of the ball and a totally revamped roster.  The new coach was satisfied with the work at this week’s minicamp.  

 

Now that minicamp is over, there is a six week break until training camp begins on July 25.  Lovie delivered a message to his team on what they should be doing between now and the start of training camp.  He wants his team to get away from it all and relax— for a while.  At the same time, they need to stay in shape.

 

“We can’t take off for 5 weeks, 4 weeks, whatever it is….and then just come here to training camp and I’ll get in shape during training camp— those days don’t work anymore,” Lovie said.  “You have to keep training your body year round and guys realize that.”

 

The training camp schedule is set.  Lovie is planning late afternoon practices to get his team acclimated to the heat.  He also wants his team to adjust to playing during those late afternoon hours.  The team’s first two regular season games are 4:25pm and 4:05pm starts at home.  Plus, it also gives fans an opportunity to get out of work and take in a practice session or two.  

 

“We want to be fan friendly,” Lovie said.

 

When Lovie was in Chicago, he took the Bears on location for training camp.  That won’t be the case here.  Lovie says the plan all along was to keep training camp at One Buc Place.  

 

“When you have the best facility in the league, why would you want to go [elsewhere],” Lovie explained.  

 

The table is set.  Offseason work is over.  Training camp is 6 weeks away.  Before you know it, the season opener against Carolina on September 7 will be upon us.  Lovie wants his players to get themselves ready for the grind.

 

“And now it’s on you,” Lovie said of his message to the players before departing for the summer.  “Nobody’s watching.  How important is football to you?  I think it’s pretty important to our guys.”

 

Next stop—training camp.  The coaches and players vow to be ready.  The season is right around the corner.  Are you ready?

 

News & notes:

  • Bucs signed two of their draft choices on Thursday— 1st round pick WR Mike Evans gets a 4 year deal with an option for a 5th year.  Evans will reportedly get $14.6 million with an $8.96 million signing bonus.  Evans on signing his first contract: “It’s a blessing man, I’ve never seen so many zeroes.” 
  • The team also came to terms with their 3rd rounder RB Charles Sims.  
  • Second round pick TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins is the only draft choice remain unsigned.   
  • Bucs DT Gerald McCoy had an ice cream truck stop by the field after practice.  He treated players, staff and even the media to ice cream.  Classy move by a classy guy.  
  • I asked McCoy what he was doing during the break: “I’m staying right here [in Tampa].”  He says he’s motivated to keep working.  He has a relentless work ethic.      
  • DE Michael Johnson knows the team has to use the heat to their advantage: “You have to make it your friend.  It should be an ally.”
  • Johnson played with Pro Bowl DT Geno Atkins up in Cincinnati and now he’s lining up next to another Pro Bowler in McCoy.  I asked Johnson to compare the two: “Both every talented players.  That’s obvious by watching both on film.  Just being around them—the way they work.  Gerald of course is more vocal.”  
  • The game of musical chairs continued Thursday at the guard position.  Oniel Cousins lined up with the first team at left guard while Jason Meredith at right guard.  Patrick Omameh and rookie Kadeem Edwards are also in the mix.  This will be one of the big position battles to watch during training camp.
  • The Bucs training camp schedule is all set.  Players will report on July 24th with the first practice taking place on Friday July 25th from 4:30pm-7pm.  For more details on practice times, check out 620wdae.com and buccaneers.com.  
  • Keep it locked on 620am WDAE and 95.3FM as well as the Bucs blog at 620wdae.com for the best Bucs coverage.