New head coach Greg Schiano spoke after the Buccaneers' first mini-camp practice of the year and addressed several topics, including Ronde Barber's possible move to safety, and the up-tempo practice style he is employing in Tampa Bay.
Schiano’s opening statement:
“Hey guys, thanks for coming out. It’s fun. On the first day it’s good to get the guys out on the grass, walk-thrus, meetings, and a little bit of practice. We have a long way to go but I’m really pleased with the way these guys came out and worked and pushed through. For you, it’s not that warm. But it felt pretty toasty out there and they did a good job, so we’ll work our way. Rome wasn’t built in a day and we’ll have to work our way into it, but I was pleased with our effort and our want-to. And now we have a long road to getting it to where we want to, but that’s the fun part.” What are you looking for from the guys on Day One?
“Teaching the way we do things, and that covers a lot of different areas – effort, precision, schematics, and all those things. And if you have to come out of it with one thing, you want them to understand the tempo with which we practice and the attention to detail that’s required to play this game effectively. The schemes will come. We have time – although not a lot of it – but that will happen over time where we will rep it and learn it, and rep it and learn it, and rep it and learn it. But to get the tempo and the attention to detail would be the biggest thing.” Your tempo was faster than the players might have been used to. Is this the speed with which you have always practiced?
“That’s the only way I’ve ever done it, wherever I’ve been. That’s the only way I know.”
How do you think the players responded to it?
“I think they did a great job. We’ve talked a bunch as a group. Change is hard. It’s not good or bad, it’s just hard because you’re used to one thing. But they’ll get used to this and this will be the norm.” Did anyone catch your eye during practice?
“A lot of them caught my eye. I was excited. It starts with our long snapper. Zip. I liked the way [his snaps] looked. Our punter – outstanding. That’s good stuff. I know that’s not what anybody wants to hear about, but we had a lot of good players out there that practiced hard.” Do you anticipate a lot of returns while your return man holds two footballs (which was practiced on Tuesday)?
“Well wait until you see him holding six. P.J. Fleck does a great job with those guys. He’s excellent – the best I’ve been around – as far as coaching those guys. We have good talent there and he’ll make them better.” There were some players playing different positions on Tuesday. Is that part of the experimentation of the offseason?
“They’re very preliminary, but we are going to try different combinations. Our goal is to get the best 11 on defense and best 11 on offense and the best 11 on special teams. So who they are, I don’t think you can pigeon-hole guys into different positions because the scheme is going to be a little different than it’s been. But we’re going to try to figure out what the best combination is. That will take a little bit of time. You can’t take too long because guys have to create a comfort level for themselves, but now is the time to mess around.” Ronde Barber was playing safety on Tuesday. Will you experiment with him there or will he toggle back and forth between cornerback and safety?
“That’s one of those that we just talked about. I think that Ronde can certainly do it. And he did a good job today doing it. Again, we’ll see. How do we get the best 11 on the field?” On the physical status of the injured players, such as defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, and safety Cody Grimm – all of whom practiced? Are they ready to go?
“I wouldn’t say they’re ready to go. If we had to play a game today you wouldn’t see them out there, but they went today. They practiced. So that’s good. And everybody did it at different levels, which is what you expect coming back. Again, you try to build it so that you’re building to the start of the season and climbing through the season. They don’t need to be full-go right now, but I was impressed that they all went through it and pushed through. Everybody had different discomfort levels coming back, but they all pushed through and that’s good.” What did you find out about the relative shape of your team? Were there players that need to get in better shape?
“I would say our whole team needs to, but again, it’s April 17 and I don’t want them to be in tip-top shape right now because it’s very hard to stay at that level. I thought to go out there and go as long as we did and as hard as we did – I was pleased. Now let’s see how we wake up tomorrow and do it again, but it’s a great way to set the level and the tempo of what it’s going to be around here. It never fails. Everyone will rise up to that level.”Where are you on your own learning curve as far as knowing the roster and what players are capable of doing?
“I’m certainly behind guys that have coached their team before. There’s no doubt about that. So from a personnel standpoint, I have some real catching up to do. I’ll watch these tapes a lot harder than I might if this was my second or third year as a head coach because I would know these guys. I’m trying to figure out how they move, how they react and how they do when they get a little bit fatigued. There is more to learn than just the scheme when you are watching the tape. The other thing is that being a new head coach in this league, everything takes a little longer. I don’t have the familiarity with some of the tasks that I have to do. I look forward to the second cycle, but I am enjoying the heck out of the first cycle. After doing the same thing for 11 years this has been exciting.”How important is it to you and your staff that the timing of this camp comes before the draft?
“I think it’s good. Obviously, the league does that for a reason so you kind of get to figure out what you have on your football team. It’s not a great indicator. We’re running around in shorts out there, but it’s better than nothing. I think it’s good for Mark Dominik and I to be able to talk about things after watching for three days. We’ll continue to do that. It will be good.”How was the attendance today?
“Good. It was real good.”Was there anybody not here that you expected?
“Yeah, let me think. There was one guy who was not here that I expected to be here. That was it out of the whole group. We’ll figure it out and get to the bottom of it.”Was it Connor Barth?
“No. I didn’t expect him to be here.”How much of what you have been able to teach in the classroom were you able to translate to the football field?
“That’s the fun part of it. We’re not going to overload them with stuff, but we’re not just going to go out [tomorrow] and repeat what we did today. We’ll give them more tomorrow and more on Thursday – just so they get the taste of doing it. It’s kind of weird because you get this opportunity to do the mini-camp, so you get to play 11-on-11 football a little bit, but next week we have to go back to just individual drills and the strength and conditioning. I’m not complaining because we had this opportunity, but it serves as a good springboard. Now we’re going to go back and re-learn things and get a better understanding. Once you do them you always kind of figure out what the challenges are.”Is your attention to detail part of a bigger message to this team?
“It’s not just this team. I believe football is a game of details. It’s toughness, it’s want-to, it’s all those things. But at the end of the day, everybody is trained precisely to play this game. When you are training a guy to block the near number as opposed to the far number, that’s a real fine detail. How do you practice following details? It’s in everything you do. It’s just what we believe.”Can you address the release of Tanard Jackson and what the plans are at safety?
“The decision [has been made] and I think Mark addressed that, so I don’t need to get into that. Where we go from here is that we figure it out. It was mentioned that Ronde was working at safety and we obviously have some other guys on the roster that play safety. There are safeties that are available in the draft and there are some safeties still available in free agency. We’ll figure it out. We’ll work through it. It’s kind of a work in progress. We’ll have two on opening day – I promise.”Can you discuss what the attraction was with defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and how he fits in with your defense?
“He was certainly a very good player coming out of college. I have some knowledge of him because we played against him. He kind of lived in our backfield, so I have that memory of him. But then you watch him on pro tape and he’s done some good things, but probably hasn’t lived up to the expectations of many – probably including himself. But he’s here to do that. He and I talked before he became a Buc, and we talked about what he can become and what I believe he will become. He’s really excited to go out and play football and I think it really bolsters our depth on the defensive line. It’s a great opportunity for all of us.”Is it tough only having two running backs (LeGarrette Blount and Mossis Madu) in this mini-camp?
“Well, we actually brought in a third guy, he kind of is a tryout, so that took a little burden off. We’ll go some one-back and things and we’ll mix it up. We’re not going to put anybody in jeopardy of being exhausted and possibly injure themselves. It’s a little bit of a strain, but again, we’ll have to bolster that number to go to training camp for sure.”What are you looking for from the players in this mini-camp in just three days in shorts?
“I think it’s just like any relationship. We’re building a relationship so they’re learning more about me and the staff and we’re learning more about them and as you go through, the good things you’ll get excited about and the not so good things you’ll get frustrated with. That’s all part of building a relationship and learning how to trust each other, and that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to build that before we have anything. Certainly the technical things and the physical things we have to do, but until we really understand each other, and when I say each other I mean the groups, the new staff, the players, training guys and the new players, we’ll kind of get that whole chemistry cooking. As I said earlier, I was pleased with the way that they worked. Maybe they couldn’t do it all, but they tried. That was the biggest thing to me. I don’t know how many guys we had or the number, but if it was 50 or 60 guys trying to do what I was asking them to do and the coaches were asking them to do, that to me is everything. As long as they’ll try to do it we’ll be fine.”Did you have any concerns that any drills or anything that you attempted to have the players do would not be well received?
“Not really because football players are football players and they’re competitors so when you challenge them, they’ll rise up to the challenge if you’ve got the right guys. I believe from what I’ve seen and getting to know these guys that we do. There are always going to be challenges. You put any group of people together and there’s always going to be a couple of guys that you’ve got to work through it with. My immediate reaction isn’t to say, ‘Forget that.’ My reaction is, ‘Let’s try to work through this.’ We’re going to get to know each other and how it works, and that’s what we’ll do. It’s still very early, but it was fun to get back on the grass.”Was Quincy Black running the huddle and is that a role that he will be fulfilling this year?
“We’re so preliminary at this point. We’re trying to figure out what’s the best way to do it for a lot of reasons. Not only running the huddle, but if he’s doing that maybe somebody else can work at something else or make calls. We’ll figure out who the best guys are to do that, but I think Quincy has some maturity about him. He’s been doing this for a little bit so it’s something that we’re trying.”Do you have to curb your enthusiasm a little bit being out on the field with the players for the first time?
“I don’t tend to do that very often. I was excited. I’ll tell you we’ve been working very hard to get everything ready. When you’re at some place for 11 years, everything kind of falls into place automatically because it’s the same people doing it – security, managers, trainers, everybody’s new to each other so everything takes longer. You have to go through each detail painstakingly and then at the end you still miss some stuff. We’re working through it now and that’s fun, but you’re just writing like a maniac, taking notes out there because you’ve got to get it right. This is kind of training for all of us to get ready for training camp, where we’ve got to hit it and get it. We’ll build through this mini-camp, OTAs (organized team activities) and then the mandatory mini-camp, and hopefully we’ll be able to go to training camp with the people that truly understand each other and what we’re setting out to do.” – Andrew Scavelli contributed to this report
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