Wednesday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers held their final practice before Friday night’s preseason opener in Cincinnati. Dirk Koetter said the practice was better than Tuesday’s lackluster performance from his club, but also talked about how his players know the date on the calendar, and knew this would be their final tune up before Friday. Today’s practice focused on some of the game situations they want to be sure the players are ready for if and when they arise this preseason.
“We got a lot of situations today, Koetter said of the day’s practice. “We got some goal line, some short yardage, some red zone, some two minute. We’ve had three days in a row with the officials. Great work today. A lot of stuff that’s going to come up on Friday.”
When it comes to Friday night’s game in Cincinnati, Koetter left no intrigue into how long you will see the starter play. While many coaches choose to only play their starters a series or two in the preseason opener, Koetter says the starters will play most of, if not the entire first quarter.
“We’re going to play the starters about a quarter, Koetter explained. “Pretty typical – a quarter the first week, a half the second week, into the third quarter the third week. That’s pretty typical for most teams.”
As much as the Dirk will allow his starters to go for a quarter, it’s the young players and new players he really wants to see on the field as he tries to figure out how he’s going to build his roster.
“You know what your veterans can do. You want to see what some of the young guys – what some of the new guys can do. It’s exciting. It’s part of the process of getting ready for the season, and preseason’s a valuable part of the evaluation.
An interesting story through training camp and the preseason will be how Koetter splits up the reps between his running backs, considering how high he is on the depth at the position, and the fact that he will be without Doug Martin for the first three weeks of the season. Koetter and the Buccaneers need to balance getting Martin enough work during the preseason, but also making sure the depth behind him is ready to shoulder the load during his absence.
Martin spoke today about if his approach to the preseason is different because he’ll be suspended the first three games of the year, and how important the preseason will be because he’ll be out. While Martin spoke on the importance of getting work during the exhibition games, he also didn’t sound concerned about being ready come October 1st.
“It’s important you know to get my work in – get in as much work as I can,” Martin told 620 WDAE. During those three weeks, I’m still going to be training. It’s definitely going to be good for myself and the rest of the team.”
Jacquizz Rodgers also spoke after practice, and says despite the fact that he might have a bigger role this season, especially during Martin’s three-game suspension, his approach to camp hasn’t changed.
“Same approach. Coach split up our reps,” Rodgers said. “Makes sure everybody gets work in camp, and make sure also you don’t get burned out, so the approach is pretty much the same.”
Another of the options in the backfield was featured on Hard Knocks last night, and the segment was both positive and negative for rookie running back Jeremy McNichols. While on one hand there was talk about his nickname being “McWeapon” because of his versatility and pass catching abilities out of the backfield, they also focused on the fact that he’s not sure what the hell he’s doing out there too often for his coaches liking.
I think Tim (Spencer) said in the deal he needs to get in his playbook,” Koetter said about his running backs coach’s comments. “I would agree with Tim. He needs to get in his playbook.”
Jameis Winston continued to have a Jameis Winston like camp today. At times making the spectacular play, and at times making the head-scratching play. That’s Jameis. Jameis has always been a better game performer than practice performer, and so many times practice is about working on new things or things you’re not excelling in, so it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that he’s not perfect day in and day out, or play in and play out.
“Jameis had some really good plays and some ones that we need to get better at,” Koetter said. “You’re running a lot of plays every day, a lot of situations. You’re striving for perfection but you hardly ever get there. I haven’t seen that too often. There’s some spectacular ones, and some ones you’d like to have back. We’ll go in the film room – learn it, and learn our lessons and get better.”
Ali Marpet missed another practice today, but by the sound of it, it seems the team is just being overly cautious at a time where it would be silly to have Marpet on the field if he’s dinged.
“Ali was out,” Koetter said. “This is the time of year with your guys that you know are going to be here – you’re being cautious with them. He’s day to day right now.”
Training camp’s first big scare came late in practice when cornerback Brent Grimes had to be carted off the field. The initial concerns when a player is down with his legs being looked at and then gets carted off are always bad, but it seems that Grimes only suffered a laceration to his shin, and there won’t be much to worry about even if the team gives him the night off on Friday.
“It was a laceration. I think he got a spike. It was kind of a nasty looing laceration on his shin. I think he’ll be fine,” Koetter said while seeming very unconcerned that he’ll be without his top corner.