BY: Evan Winkofsky
At the end of another long day of practice Head Coach Lovie Smith almost sounded exasperated.
"What else is there to talk about really? We need to play a game. We really do. There is nothing I can give you."
The Bucs are inching closer to the start of their preseason campaign and many question marks still remain. "We have a depth chart and we think we kind of know but you need to get to this next step" said Lovie.
That next step for the Bucs is taking the field, under the lights with a lot of new faces and a brand new coaching staff. One way Offensive Coordinator Jeff Tedford hopes to gain perspective will be from the booth. When asked about his coordinators Lovie said one would be up top and one (Frazier) would be with him on the field.
"For us it's a whole new situation for everybody. New system and new players and all that." Said QB Josh McCown "it's going out and just executing and being clean with things procedurally."
Protecting Tampa's new QB will be a retooled offensive line. The o-line remains one of the bigger question marks surrounding this team. Anything could change before Friday's kickoff with Jacksonville but for now it looks like Oniel Cousins will get the nod at LG and Jamon Meredith at RG.
One position on the line that has varied throughout camp and may continue to change as the season develops is tight end. In the Tedford offense we have seen the tight end lined up on the tackle, in the backfield and in the slot. It is one position that Lovie has been confident in. Stocker, Myers, Wright and Austin Seferian-Jenkins have all had productive and at times impressive practices.
On rookie TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins: "He's got a great skill set. We are excited to see what he can do and what his future will be," Said McCown. "He's everything you could ask for in a young guy."
Slot receiver will continue to be a developing situation as the preseason progresses and don't be surprised if Jeff Tedford remedies that with a TE from time to time.
On Friday not only will fans finally get to see what this team can do Lovie Smith and this staff will know how much work is still to be done for them to be ready to play week one vs. Carolina.
• The Wide Receivers practiced catching drills while down on one knee. Mike Evans dropped a ball and showed some determination by asking for one more rep. The coaches obliged... Something that doesn't always happen in practice.
• Eric Page fielded the majority of the punt returns. Lovie Smith seemed pretty comfortable with him and was all smiles while providing some pointers. Expect to see a rotation at that position throughout the preseason until a final decision is made.
• Vincent Jackson dropped back to return some punts. He has never returned a punt in his NFL career. He had one bounce off his hands up into the air and returned for a TD by Leonard Johnson. Leonard celebrated with the Ladainian Tomlinson TD dance... Coincidence? I would guess not.
• Jeff Demps took a kickoff back for what would have been a TD even IF they were tackling.
• William Gholston, whose versatility could be on display this year playing both inside an outside scooped up a Mike James fumble and was off to the races.
• DT Akeem Spence said his player he is most looking forward to seeing in a game situation is Jeff Demps. "I can't wait to see what he can do in the open field."