Just two days after getting their first preseason win, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were back at practice on Saturday, as they prepare for their third preseason game. Because the team played on Thursday, several players were held out of practice today, the most alarming being Right Tackle Demar Dotson, who was to have an MRI on his injured groin.
Head Coach Dirk Koetter described Saturday's practice as sluggish. Koetter on how practice went stated, "So-so. It's what you'd expect after a late-night game & then a day off, a little bit sluggish."
On Saturday, the Buccaneers signed Cornerback Vernon Harris & waived Cornerback Maurice Fleming. And with injuries to Cornerbacks Brent Grimes & Jude Adjei-Barimah, I asked Koetter after Saturday's practice where the team was at the cornerback position behind the two starters. Koetter said, "Well, right now we've got Ryan Smith working outside and Bobby Mac [Robert McClain] and Javien Elliott working inside and outside. So those would be our top five right now."
Because of his lacerated shin injury, Koetter said it's doubtful that Grimes will play next Saturday vs Cleveland. About Grimes, Koetter explained. "He got some of his stitches out yesterday, not all of them. It's looking a lot better. He's foaming at the mouth to get out there and go. I think if there was a real game there's no question he'd be out there, but there's no use risking it for a guy like him with that type of injury. We don't need to make it back open again."
And while the team has suffered injuries to cornerbacks & offensive linemen this camp, one position where they are healthy is at the running back position. The Buccaneers will be without Running Back Doug Martin the first three regular season games, so as the team gets closer to the start of the season, Koetter said today, it's time to prepare to be without Martin.
Koetter was also asked today how the young running backs are doing. Koetter evaluated the running backs & said, "[Jeremy] McNichols looks like a rookie, he's learning, he's making rookie mistakes, playing a little bit tentative but how a rookie should be. McNichols reminds me a lot of where Peyton Barber was last year at this time. Peyton Barber looks like a guy who played last year and has a little confidence and some experience under his belt. I think Charles Sims has had an outstanding camp and Doug [Martin] has had a real good camp. Jacquizz [Rodgers] hasn't got very many chances; we'll try to give him some more chances this week against Cleveland."
Another player who Koetter spoke well about today was Defensive End Noah Spence. Koetter describes Spence as a player giving great effort, which he expects from every player. Spence is being looked upon by some to be that player who can reach the 10 sack total, which no Buccaneer player has reached since 2005. As for that 10 sack total, you may not want to mention it to Koetter, because his response might be like it was today when he was asked about it. And that's simple; the last he heard, the object of the game was to win.
The portion of the conversation with the media that concentrated on sacks did bring some laughter because Bucs All-Time Great Defensive End Simeon Rice was at Saturday's practice. Koetter joked, "I just told Simeon Rice, though, we'd suit him up if he thought he could get 10. He said he could get us five. He'll get us five and teach those young guys how to get some."
Rice, who was the last Bucs player to reach 10 sacks, spoke to the media after the practice, touching on subjects including if he could still play today & how much the Hall of Fame & Ring of Honor matters to him. But Rice also spent time talking & working with Spence & another young defensive end Ryan Russell. Rice had high praise for Spence. Rice glowingly said, "He has the talent. He has the capabilities. He has to allow it to shine now – don’t hide it from the world. Be what you are capable of being, do what you are capable of doing. It’s interesting to see because I’m like watching him after practice and they’re working. I’m like, ‘Yo, this kid wants to be special. This kid is going to be special.’ If you search for it long enough, you will find it.”
Rice was also asked what he thought of HBO Hard Knocks & whether he would've gotten air time. Rice responded, "You put me and [Warren] Sapp, I mean come on. Without a doubt. It would’ve been must-see TV – on the field and off, you know, lifestyle, the whole nine. This was Hollywood south. This is where it was at when we were playing here.”
And heading into the 2017 season, Bucs' fans are hoping that this team can have some of the success that Rice's Bucs teams had & would be happy to see Tampa turn into "Hollywood South" again.