Day-19 of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp was the final day of training camp practice, but while the access for fans and media change in the weeks that follow, the biggest change for the players will be the time of day when practice begins and ends. Head coach Dirk Koetter talked today about why the job to be done won’t change much before the regular season begins whether or not we get to peek behind the curtain to see it happen.
“I love working with these guys. I don’t want to single guys out,” Koetter said about the players trying to fight their way from the 90-man preseason roster to the regular season squad that will head to New Orleans Week-1. “Cuts are coming. We’ve got guys fighting for jobs. Guys trying to make those last spots. Love how these guys are working. Even though training camp is over, evaluation is not over. For guys that are not in that top 22 to 30 players, evaluation these last two preseason games matters, a lot.”
For the players, Wednesday represented the final opportunity to work in front of the home fans at practice in their new, shiny indoor practice facility, and their head coach thinks it’s something they really enjoy.
“I think the energy picked up when we came inside. Having the fans and having the air conditioning, they like both,” Koetter said about how the team responded when moving inside for the second half of practice.
One of the guys who had the best camp this season was Desean Jackson, who stood out with his performance and his leadership, and it’s something Koetter and his teammates appreciate.
“I expected it in year-one,” Koetter said when asked if Jackson’s camp was what he expected in year-two. “Desean’s had a really good camp. I give Desean a lot of credit for how he’s come out here and worked, and set the tone for some of the younger guys. He doesn’t need to set it for Mike, and Hump, and Chris, but Desean’s done a really good job in camp, and I think more than anything else, Desean has come and really put his best foot forward every day.”
The Bucs got some very good news yesterday after Donovan Smith left practice with a knee injury many were worried could be the dreaded season-ending torn ACL, but instead the injury will only keep Smith out for a few weeks, and the veteran left tackle is expected to be ready for Week-1. With so many injuries at tackle, the Bucs have had to work some players at the position who nobody expected to play there.
“Unfortunately, depth at tackle is probably our biggest issue right now, Koetter said when asked if they had been able to see more of the depth at the position because of the current situation. “I think as of today we had four of our top six offensive tackles didn’t practice today. It’s let us see a lot of guys, and some guys we weren’t even planning playing at tackle.”
The Bucs play their third, and most important preseason game Friday night at Raymond James Stadium when they host the Detroit Lions.