The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' core players won't see much action in the preseason finale against the Washington Redskins. In fact, while Lovie Smith has not yet revealed his specific lineup plans for Thursday night, many coaches around the league choose to rest their starters entirely in the fourth preseason game. No risk of injury is better than a marginal risk of injury.
That doesn't mean the Bucs' established veterans will tune out for the game's 60 minutes, however. All-Pro defensive tackle
“Don’t overthink it," he said. "You’ve been playing football your whole life. You’ve been in training camp since July 25th; just don’t overthink it. It’s just another practice really and the same way you approach practice, you go out there, give it your all and work hard to get better – do the same thing. In the last preseason game, you see a lot of guys make mistakes and be uncharacteristic of what they usually do because they’re trying to impress, they’re trying to make a play. You don’t have to do that. Just go out there and do what it takes to make plays. Don’t try to make them, let them come to you.”
McCoy would like to see his advice help every young player on the roster get a foothold in the Bucs' locker room, but he obviously knows that's not possible. While he'll enjoy watching his teammates play most of the game on Thursday night, he won't enjoy the implications that loom in the 24 hours that follow.
"Everybody is not blessed to be in the position I'm in," said McCoy, who doesn't have to sweat seeing 'The Turk' on cut day. "I don't take it for granted. I hate this time of year. It's the worst time in football – cuts, seeing guys go. You see guys put in the work all offseason and all camp, and then they get cut. You've got to be kind of inhumane to see that and be okay with it."
Thursday's game wasn't the only topic being discussed at One Buccaneer Place on Tuesday. Below are additional thoughts from Head Coach Lovie Smith, General Manager Jason Licht and several players.
Head Coach Lovie Smith
“We have a responsibility to our team and of course our fans to put the best possible football team on the field that we can. By adding Pro Bowler
On if the trade to acquire guard Logan Mankins should be interpreted by fans that the organization is committed to winning sooner rather than later:
“Well I should hope from day one that the fans thought it’s about us winning now. Everything we’ll do every day is to win now. So, yes.”
On if he feels better about the offensive line than he did yesterday:
“Do I feel better about adding a Pro Bowler to our offensive line? Yes I do.”
On how concerned he was about the offensive line before today:
“We’re always concerned. I’ve made the statement that we’re always trying to improve our roster. Constantly – it doesn’t stop. We felt good. I talked about how much our team had improved; of course, the offensive line was a part of that. But this is just a guy that we felt like you couldn’t pass on. Not only do we talk about the Pro Bowls that he’s gone to, but [he was a] team captain. Once you get a chance to know Logan, you’ll see what we’re talking about.”
On if the trade for Mankins was related to reports that the team was looking to sign guard Richie Incognito:
“Totally separate. As I tried to tell you guys yesterday, we have a process we go through of looking at all available guys. When guys become available, we look at them. A part of that with Richie, of course, was to meet with him. We had long discussions with him up until last night. And there’s a lot of things going on. We have a great personnel staff that’s evaluating a lot of players right now. You just have to be ready to make decisions when someone like this comes up.”
On how helpful it was to complete the trade having former Patriot front office members Jason Licht and Jon Robinson:
“It had a lot to do with it. You call on all your sources to try to get as much information as you possibly can. Of course Jon and Jason helped. We have
On what the next step is after acquiring Mankins:
“We’re going to start immediately trying to catch Logan up. We didn’t bring him here to be a backup and sit on the bench and all that stuff. So it’s about catching him up to date as soon as we possibly can. We have an excellent offensive line coach in George Warhop. Again, as soon as we get him in, we’ll start.”
On if Mankins will play Thursday night:
“He will not play Thursday.”
On how his face-to-face meeting with Incognito went:
“Informative. Got a lot of information. I talked yesterday about wanting to meet face-to-face with Richie. It was good to do that. So a lot of my questions I got answered.”
On offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford and his medical procedure:
“The procedure went well. He is still out for a period of time. We don’t know exactly how long. We just know that the procedure went well. He’s fine, alert, up. But we’ll take our time with him. He will not be at the game Thursday. We hope to get him back soon.”
On what the plan is for calling plays on offense on Thursday with Tedford out:
“We’re still working through that right now. There’s a lot of things we’ve had going on. We have things in place, just in general, right now if something goes down how we’re going to do things.”
On the leadership qualities of Mankins:
“He has a history of a certain type of play in the league. Most people say Logan Mankins – tough football player, real man, everybody loves him, great guy in your locker room. And that’s earned from playing so many years of top-level football. And then, opponents; as you talk to them, they know what to expect going against him. He’s one of those guys that’s going to come to work every day with his lunch pail. Exactly what we need on our football team and of course in the offensive line room.”
On if the Mankins trade rules out the team signing Incognito:
“We try not to talk about putting a period behind many things, everything is on-going. If a player is available out there, there’s still a possibility, but we like our football team and where we are right now. We made a lot of improvements, we feel like we’re in pretty good shape going into the season and we are getting ready for Carolina with this group that we have right now.”
On if last night’s meeting turned them away from Incognito:
“No, it was – again I’ve talked about getting information. I didn’t want to hear things second-hand, I wanted to hear it myself and he was able to answer all of the questions that I had.”
On if he expects the first-team offensive line unit to play better Thursday after the Mankins trade today:
“No. As a general rule, we use the first three preseason games in order to get ready for the season. The final one, I never have and don’t plan on [playing the starters]. We feel good about the group that we’re going with and for most of those guys it’s time to get ready for Carolina. To develop our football team this is an important game for us and for some of our backups that didn’t play a lot last week. We weren’t pleased with how some of our seconds played. We want to get a good look at them, so there are a lot of things that we need to [look at]. During the course of the preseason, we want to get all of the situations in and we haven’t gone for two points, so there are a lot things that we need to do and of course evaluating our seconds is a part of that.”
On how losing Wright affects their plans to use the tight ends:
“We like the guys that we have left,
On what roster cuts have they made to get down to a 75-man roster:
“I’m trying to think of exactly what we did, there’s been a lot of moving parts right now, I’ll have to get back with you in a little bit.”
On if Mankins’ experience at tackle influenced this move:
“We were just looking at whether he has or not, we were just looking at him as a guard and what he’s done at that position. It’s as simple as that.”
On how much it helps the team that Mankins is coming from a winning background:
“I think that helps, but it’s the entire package that he brings which is good. We talk on and off the football field. He’s been [in New England] for a while, he’s been in an environment as you mentioned where they won a bunch of games, but we want to be known as a tough football team. You would classify him as a tough football player and it’s hard for me to just bring up negative things about him that I don’t like. I just like the total package that he brings to our team.”
On the plan for quarterbacks in Thursday night’s game:
On if defensive lineman Da’Quan Bowers will be ready for the game and if anybody has been ruled out for Thursday:
“He didn’t practice today. I’ll be able to tell you a little bit more, but you guys are on to Thursday a little bit and we’re not quite there right now. I can tell the guys that practiced and he didn’t practice today and that list on Thursday is kind of low priority for me right now.”
General Manager Jason Licht
On the trade for guard Logan Mankins:
"We've been saying all along that we're going to look at all options. I think you’ve seen a couple of trades now and a couple of acquisitions and a lot of free agents that we looked at or talked to. It's been something that we've been talking about – all these different things – since the first week of camp. It kind of came to fruition today, so we're very excited to acquire a player like Logan."
On if the team felt fortunate to be able to add a Pro Bowl player at this time of the season:
"We feel very fortunate just to have Logan. He's a very good player. [I'm] a first-hand witness of what he means to the locker room as well. I was with him for three year,; our director of player personnel, Jon Robinson, has been with him his entire career. His play on the field speaks for itself for Lovie [Smith] and our coaches, but I've known him over the years. Any time you have five consecutive Pro Bowls, All-Pro player - I mean, [that's] a lot of accolades – but he's a great person. He's going to be great for that room, he's going to be great for this locker room."
On if the trade puts an end to any interest in Richie Incognito:
"You know what? We always are going to leave options open, players that we think can be good fits but then also be good players for us. I wouldn't put an end to that, but that's just one of several options that are out there right now."
On if the undisclosed draft pick is a fourth-round pick:
"I know that that's out there. We have both kind of decided we weren't going to discuss that. I'll just hold up our end of the bargain on that, but I know that's out there."
On the tight end depth that allows the team to trade Tim Wright:
"It tells you that we feel very good about the three tight ends that we have on the roster right now. Actually, we like the fourth tight end on our roster right now, too. I guess it speaks about that. We think that Tim is a very good football player. It's hard – [as] a rookie came in and caught 54 balls. That's a pretty remarkable feat. We feel like that the return we got on the investment obviously worked in our favor. They probably feel like that they got a pretty good deal, too. So I think it worked out on both ends."
On if the team plans to play Mankins at left guard or right guard:
"You know, he hasn't even stepped on the field yet. We haven't even had a chance, really, to discuss that in-depth right now. So I'll leave that to the coaches. I'll stay out of that. They'll put him where he's going to help us win football games the best."
On if the Buccaneers were calling around or the Patriots came to them:
"We made calls. It's just kind of normal for every team to call every team about this time of year. It was a little bit of both."
On if there are concerns about Mankins' age:
"No, we feel pretty good about it. We know that he's 32. Richie [Incognito] was 31. There are some good football players that are up there past their 30s. We obviously felt comfortable with it.
On how Mankins played last year:
"To me, he looked the same as he did when I was there in 2009, '10, '11. He's a good athlete, he's very strong, he's very smart, he's very tough. He's a tenacious player, a quiet type of toughness. As a defensive coach or defensive player, you just don't like playing against him. He brings that to the field and he brings exceptional leadership off the field."
On how difficult it will be for Mankins to get indoctrinated into the Buccaneers' offense:
"Not as much of a challenge as a younger player, and not as much of a challenge as most players because of his extreme intelligence."
On how the communication with Incognito stands:
"It stands as an option. We'll always continue – my staff, Lovie's staff, on the scouting side – to entertain all options that are out there, whether it's a trade or whether it's a player on the street. Our scouts, Jon Robinson and Scott Cohen, they do a fabulous job presenting a lot of different scenarios every day."
On how it was left with Incognito:
"It was left as, 'Thank you for coming in. We appreciate it, and we'll get back to you."
On if an offer was made to Incognito:
On if the Mankins trade was on the table Monday night:
"The deal was consummated when I ran out to the practice field today, huffing and puffing."
On if the Buccaneers and Patriots had been talking back and forth:
"A little bit, but we had a little bit of conversation with six or seven teams, with different positions. We've got a lot of lines out there right now."
On the potential of this defense:
“I see a lot of talent, there’s no secret about the talent we’ve got on this team and on the defensive side of the ball. I think what we do every day is try and workout some of the things that we had worked on and just get better, I know that we did some good things in the preseason, but there’s a lot of ability for the starters in the next week or so and that’s for all of the marbles.”
On the speed of this defense and if it will all come together:
“It’s definitely coming together, it took a lot of work and I think that we’re still working at that. As far as the speed on this team, we’re a young football team, a young football team with a lot of potential to be a great defense. Just the talent itself speaks volumes, we have a lot of guys that are athletic at positions – we have lineman that can run and jump, I think when you have a team like that it sets you up for a good situation on defense.”
DT Gerald McCoy
On what fans should expect from this team and defense:
“I don’t know, I can’t predict the future, but I’ll you that [we] have a team that day-in and day-out is coming out and putting in a lot of work to go from worst-to-first and we’ve got a ‘why not us?’ mentality. We’re just going to keep that mentality and keep going to work.”
On what he likes about playing in this defense:
“It’s not that much thinking. You take a player like me; I make my money being disruptive and just using my God-given gifts and getting off the ball with my quickness and stuff, and it allows me to do that without having to think about doing a whole bunch of other stuff.”
On how he has progressed since the beginning of training camp:
“I think my footwork has gotten a lot better, I was just watching the tape from when the first day I got here to yesterday’s practice and my footwork has come a long way, I’m really pleased about that.”
On what he wants to focus on before the season starts:
“Every game means something to me, I’m sure it does to everyone else in this locker room. Maybe it’s not a win or loss that goes towards the actual regular season record, but I think you can definitely get some more improvement and become a better player in these preseason games and that’s what’s most important, not just for myself, but for everyone that’s going to be playing on Thursday night. Just working on the fundamentals, getting better, trusting your calls and doing what we do, just playing football and having fun.”