Buccaneers right guard Davin Joseph was being rather coy when talking with reporters about himself and about his absence from Monday’s OTA, which is the first organized team activity at One Buccaneer Place this offseason, but wound up talking freely about a multitude of other topics.
First, Joseph danced around the fact that he was in attendance at the team’s facility, but not on the practice field.
“Not this week (laughs). I call it ‘vets week,’” said Joseph. “I had a little clean-up done a little while back, so I’ll be back. I’m not going to get specific.”
Joseph was asked if the clean-up surgery done to his upper body or lower body.
“We’ll go with the lower body region,” said Joseph. “Just some fine-tuning.”
Pewter Report has learned that Joseph is recovering from minor arthroscopic knee surgery, and as it turns out, he’s already recovered from the disappointment of last year’s 3-13 record.
“I would have been miserable if our guys had stopped working,” Joseph said when talking about the 2009 season. “I would have been miserable if our coach had given up on us. I would have been miserable if we had guys trash talking other guys, but we don’t have stuff like that here so, you know – you win some, you lose some. You’ve just got to keep on thinking that there’s going to be a light at the end of the tunnel. We’ll just keep on digging and keep on working hard and trust and believe in what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”
If it sounds as if Joseph, who is entering his fifth season as the team’s starting right guard, is overly optimistic about the 2010 season, well, he is.
“Of course. We got better throughout the season,” Joseph said, pointing to the team’s 2-1 finish in the last three games of the season. “[Last season] we started kind of high, fell really low and then we worked our way back up. Our special teams really improved. We saw a lot of guys really contribute on special teams and that really helped us. Now having [quarterback Josh] Freeman as a full-time [starter] as quarterback, we know who our quarterback is going to be for the season. The defense is stable. We know who the defensive coordinator’s going to be. The offense is stable. We know who our offensive coordinator’s going to be. So there are a lot of positive changes that will allow us to grow now.”
Joseph, who was Tampa Bay’s first-round pick in 2006, saw the Buccaneers select another Oklahoma product in junior defensive tackle Gerald McCoy with the team’s first-round pick this year. Joseph said that he doesn’t plan on giving any slack to McCoy just because they share the same alma mater.
“Nobody gives anybody slack out here, and of course, the competition is going to be high this year with the two new guys inside coming off of last year,” Joseph said. “It’s going to be some high competition, but it’s going to benefit us in the long run.
“He looked pretty good today. He looked really good. If you are a good defensive tackle, you can play – and he can play. It’s going to take some fine-tuning and some adjustment to the speed of [the NFL].”
In addition to McCoy, the Bucs also added defensive tackle Brian Price to help the D-line and two wide receivers in Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams to help Joseph and the offense.
“There have been some good changes around here,” Joseph said. “After the draft, I feel like we’ve really improved our team. We got a lot of competition in here. That’s going to make everybody better. We just need to make sure everybody understands the playbook on the offense. Raheem is back running the defense for nearly a full year now. Last year we went through our growing pains and we learned a lot. Now we’ve learned enough to take it into this season and be able to benefit from them.”
Last year, Joseph and the offensive line went through the duress of an offensive coordinator and a system change. Jeff Jagodzinski was fired right before the preseason finale and quarterbacks coach Greg Olson was promoted to the role of offensive coordinator and charged with the responsibility of running an offense he was uncomfortable with.
The offensive line had spent the entire offseason losing weight and practicing a new zone-blocking scheme, but after getting limited results in the running game, Olson began to insert more man-blocking schemes and isolation power runs towards the end of 2009. Joseph said that there will be more power runs and iso’s in Olson’s offense in 2010.
“You know, it’s another year of being together, so we should improve.” Joseph said. "Coach [Pete] Mangurian has done a lot. Things are a lot more clean-cut for us, and a lot simpler. Having a solid plan going into the season with is really going to help us a lot – knowing where to be and how to do it. We’re going through all those finer things in the OTAs and our workout days.
“We’ve changed [the scheme], too. Part of it is learning and adjusting. We have to learn to be better players. When you are put in a position where you are trying to figure things out on the run, it caught up with us last season because we changed offensive coordinators. Then you change philosophies and you try to change things week after week after week. It’s different when you have a set plan and you start from March to August and then you just have one week to prepare [for your opponents in the season]. … I hope to get some more inside runs, more iso’s and more power plays. With our backfield it makes sense with Earnest [Graham], Cadillac [Williams] and those guys that can run between the tackles. It makes sense to run those guys between the tackles. Hopefully we can get a change-up guy in here that can give us some outside runs. Of course [Derrick] Ward can do it, but to get a change-up guy would definitely help.”
Joseph said that he will miss right guard Arron Sears, whose recent mental health issues unfortunately undermined his NFL career. Sears was released after the 2010 NFL Draft after missing the entire 2009 season coping with his personal problems.
“He’s a good friend of mine,” Joseph said. “It’s just the NFL. No matter how it happens it always sucks when someone is gone. I hope [he can continue to play in the NFL]. We lost a lot of good guys this year like fullback B.J. [Askew], a guy I really liked. When your time passes, your time passes. [Defensive tackle Chris] Hovan is another guy I would have loved to play with again this year, but when your time passes everybody has to deal with it.”
One player that Joseph will have to wait to some to play with again is left tackle Donald Penn, a restricted free agent who is holding out of the Bucs’ offseason program because he wants a lucrative, long-term contract extension. Joseph is a big fan of Penn’s playing style.
“Oh he did a good job, he did a really good job,” Joseph said. “It’s hard for a left tackle in this league anyways, especially when you switch three quarterbacks and you switch a whole offense. You’ve got two different offenses and you play some tough games, and some tough competition. I thought he did real well. He was given the worst situation you could put a left tackle in.”
While Penn may be holding out of the OTAs and possibly the mandatory mini-camp, Joseph has no doubt that he will not miss the 2010 regular season.
“Penn is a professional,” Joseph said. “He’s going to handle this like he’s supposed to. It is his decision, but he’s a professional. It’s his job, but I believe he’ll be here. It’s all voluntary – but highly recommended.”
Although Joseph wasn’t practicing on Monday, his sweat-soaked shirt was proof that he had just gotten through with a grueling weight-lifting session inside the gym at One Buccaneer Place. As soon as Joseph’s knee is ready to go, his muscular physique will surely follow, as he looks fit and trim.
Last year, Joseph dropped some weight for the rigors of the zone-blocking scheme and played around 305 pounds after years of playing closer to 325 pounds. He intends to add a little bit more size to his playing weight in 2010, but has not gained too much weight this offseason.
“I think we got the same plan as far as weights go, I think we’re just trying to get in better shape, everybody’s just trying to get in better shape,” Joseph said. “We work on our overall conditioning. I’m weighing in about 316 right now. I’ve probably got about another seven or eight pounds to [lose] right now.”
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.