The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will use their starters longer in Week Two of the preseason and even go in armed with a rudimentary game plan.
NFL teams don't devote much of their precious training camp time to scouting their preseason opponents, especially in the first two weeks. The Bucs conducted almost no scout-team work before facing the Jacksonville Jaguars last Friday, and it's likely the Jaguars took a similar approach.
The preseason resumes on Sunday with the Bucs' home opener against Miami, and Lovie Smith's team did do a little bit of Dolphin-specific work on the practice field on Thursday.
"We went off [scout] cards today," said Smith. "We were going over Miami’s offense, defense and special teams. There’s no better work than good against good and not [running] off cards as offense versus defense. That’s what you do in training camp, but you do have to prepare a little bit. Your basic rules should put you into position to make plays. You shouldn’t have to look at 20 hours or 50 hours each day of video on them to be able to play well.”
Buccaneer starters played for about one quarter in Jacksonville but will get a little more time to get into a groove this Saturday.
“They will play into the second quarter, maybe twice as much as so. I hate giving exact numbers. We’ll see how the game goes, but we’re going to play a lot longer than we played last time. That’s our normal schedule that we use through the preseason.”
The Bucs were discussing that game plan and several other topics as camp came to a close on Thursday. Below are additional thoughts from Coach Smith and a handful of his players.
Head Coach Lovie Smith
“It’s countdown for us, end of the camp and of course the game this week, which we’re looking forward to. The rain has cooperated with us throughout camp, I think every day there has been a threat of thunderstorms, lightning and all of that, but we have for the most part been able to get everything in and we’re just finishing up, really. I feel like we’ve had a good camp, we realize what’s at stake this week; we want to play a lot better. Anytime you open up the season, regular season, preseason or whatever, anytime you get a chance to start off in front of your fans at home, it’s kind of special.”
On the offensive line:
“We’re more comfortable going into the Dolphins game right now, but you have to play the game. We have a combination that we’re going to use; I’ve talked about giving guys an opportunity to show us what they have, so we’ll follow that same script. We realize that we need to get the five guys working together as soon as we can, but we’re going to go through the process as I’ve said also.”
On being able to play safeties
“I’m very eager to see those two together. Dashon Goldson has done a lot of things, it’s a little different of course playing in the game, and I know he’s excited about playing. As much as anything it’s about getting the group together when you’re healthy and of course we want to get them in. I’ve been very impressed with his football knowledge and right now that’s all we’ve been able to do is talk ball and see a little bit of what he can do in practice.”
On showing the fans a better product than last week versus sticking with the process:
“The process doesn’t stop you from playing good football or looking good for our fans, we wanted to do that last week, and we want to do that this week. It’s not like we’re handcuffing our players or anything like that. Again we’ll have a game plan in place for us to be able to have success and if that doesn’t happen, that has nothing to do with us trying to slow them down or anything like that, but yes we want to play well for our opening home game of the season in Raymond James and we expect to.”
On where the team is at right now:
“Everybody just knows what they’re doing. It’s a new defense; everybody is learning a new scheme, a new system. These couple of weeks that we’ve been in training camp, things have been progressing every day. Hopefully by the time the season starts, everything will be where we want it to be.”
On how training camp went:
“I think it went well. But we still have things we need to fix. I think we’re going to do that by the time Week 1 gets here. We’ve still got a couple of preseason games for us to see everything – we’ve still got time.”
On how this new defense will allow him to elevate his game:
“I think I can make an impact in all areas. Whether it’s forcing turnovers or making tackles, tackles for losses, all type of tackles. I’ve still got a lot of learning to do. I’ve still got some film to watch to be at the top of my game.”
On his expectations for the defense this year:
“Every year, you want to improve on what you did last year. So for the defense as a whole, we want to top that number in all categories. At the end of the year, we want to be the No. 1 defense.”
S Dashon Goldson
On making his preseason debut on Saturday:
“I’m a little anxious, but at the same time, I’m trying to control those emotions. First preseason [action], I’m excited about it.”
On the new defense:
“New scheme, new faces, and it’s a new attitude for the most part. So I’m excited to be out here and see what my role is.”
On the new vibe around the building and the team:
“It’s exciting. Just being around the guys. Everybody has bought into the new program and what Coach is implementing here, coming in with a new scheme, new attitude. I think everybody has bought it. Just the way we practice, the way we carry ourselves off the field, and just going into the game.”
On how training camp went:
“Training camp has been good. It’s definitely different from the past couple of years. But everybody is starting to bond, everybody is starting to come together. We’ve still got a long way to go. We still have three preseason games.”
On the preseason home opener on Saturday:
“First outing at home. New regime, new uniforms, new logo, new everything. All we have of what people think about the Bucs is from game one [of the preseason]. So we know we have to come out better, we have to come out and start a lot faster, and give the hometown fans something to hope for. All people want is hope. You don’t have to win the Super Bowl on Saturday – people just want hope, and we want to be able to give them that.”
On how today’s practice went:
“It was good. We started doing a little bit of Dolphins work. Just honing in on perfecting what we do and building our processes in the way that we’re going to prepare. It was a good day of work. It was another day where we got better I think.”
On what the team has gotten out of this training camp:
“I think for every training camp, it’s just a discovery process for every team to see – especially when it’s a new staff or new players – just who we are and what we’re going to be, and on each side of the ball, what your identity is going to be. We obviously understand the overall identity, which is very similar to most teams: you don’t want to turn the ball over, play great defense, and those things that he preaches. But also offensively, just figuring out who we’re going to be. Every [day], we get closer to finding those things out, and learning every day at practice too. So it’s been a good camp.”
On his biggest take away from this training camp:
“You learn several things, but I think more than anything, we’ve learned that we’re a group that’s willing to work. That’s what I found out. The guys, we came out every day and really put the time in and got quality work when we’re out here. Guys pushed themselves and every guy on the roster is trying to help us get better. I think that’s the most encouraging thing because when you’re starting out in a new system and a new organization and new head coach and all those things, that’s the main thing you want to make sure you have is guys that will put the work in and I think we set that standard, set that tone for ourselves this camp. From the No. 1 highest-paid guy on the roster to the last guy, everybody worked hard and that’s what you want to have.”
On the preseason home opener on Saturday:
“I’m excited about it, just from the feedback that we’ve gotten from the fans – the support that has been here at practice. I’m excited to play for these fans. Not only myself, but everybody in the locker room is excited about being able to go out and give these fans something they can be proud of so they can rally around. We’re looking forward to Saturday night [against the Miami Dolphins].