Today the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got back on the practice field on what had to be one of the hottest days during training camp, and possibly the hottest since the team has been in full pads. Whether it was the heat, and the fact that players are itching to play against someone other than their teammates, Dirk Koetter wasn’t impressed by his team’s effort.
“Today was the first day of training camp where we were just kind of dragging it all day,” Koetter complained. “The heat has something to do with it, but you can always tell when it’s close to that time. You get in that preseason game and you find out maybe you’re not as good as you think. Plusses and minuses.”
Koetter was so unhappy with his team’s effort that he brought the team together during practice (which typically only happens towards the beginning of practice) to let them know their effort wasn’t good enough.
“We just weren’t practicing very good,” Koetter said about why he stopped practice. “We’re just going through the motions. If you’re we either gotta practice better or go in.”
One guy that never seems to be just going through the motions is middle linebacker Kwon Alexander who has quickly gone from a kid nobody saw coming to one of the best players on the team, and an unquestioned leader on the defensive side of the football.
“Your mike linebacker – he’s the guy calling the signals in the huddle, so even if your guy’s not a leader, he’s a leader by his position,” Koetter explained. “Kwon has really embraced the role of leading the defense and being the spokesman for the defense. It’s great to see.”
The position on the defense Alexander will lead that may still have the biggest question marks, or the most open competition, might be safety. Yesterday we saw rookie Justin Evans lining up with the first team. Today it was J.J. Wilcox who got his opportunity to line up with the first unit, but it was once again Evans that caught Koetter’s eye during practice.
“The last two days we started rotating JJ and Justin in so they’re not always playing together,” the Bucs head coach explained. “I think that’s good to work the different combinations so you don’t always have the two new guys together. They get to work with a vet. You guys have commented on several days that JJ has showed up. I’ve really noticed Justin Evans showing up the last two days.”
The Bucs have just one more practice before their preseason opener Friday night against the Cincinnati Bengals, and today Koetter talked about some of the things they still need to work on before his team is ready for games.
“There’s still some situational things that could come up,” Koetter told 620 WDAE. “There’s always those plays that happen at the end of the game. Hail Mary – how we’re going to throw a Hail Mary – defend a Hail Mary. What if it’s onside kick – both sides. You gotta work those game situations that come up rarely, but they probably are going to come up Friday night.”
Yesterday’s practice saw Bucs second-year defensive end Noah Spence get into a scuffle where he threw a punch at back up offensive lineman Cole Gardner, and today Koetter touched on how foolish of a move throwing a punch at a dude’s helmet is.
“There was discipline. We’ll handle that inside,” Koetter said. “The bottom line is – you all saw it. That’s just not a smart move for multiple reasons. One, you’re going to break your hand and be out. Two, you’re going to get kicked out of the game. That’s not a smart move, and it’s been handled.”
The Buccaneers also released their first depth chart on Monday, but if you listen to Koetter, you probably shouldn’t read too much into it as the Bucs coach joked that he took all of 19 seconds to put it together.
“The thing that’s worth reading into is I spent 19 seconds working on that,” Koetter said. “Trying to fit 90 guys into a two deep. Get it right now, get your cameras on. I screwed up and I put Jeremy McNichols ahead of Peyton Barber. That was an accident. I told Peyton about that in stretch today and he laughed. So I said when they ask you, tell them it was my fault, and don’t start crying or anything.”