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May 6, 2012 @ 11:57 am
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Bucs Wrap Up Mini-Camp, Plan To Sign 22-29, Including Jefferson, Johnson

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano spoke to the media late Saturday evening and again Sunday morning. Schiano said he and his staff had seen enough and were pleased with the overall talent level, while also stating the Buccaneers would keep 22-29 players from the weekend's workouts, including LSU QB Jordan Jefferson and CB Leonard Johnson.
Saturday evening's post-practice press conference:

What are the differences between today’s practices from what you saw yesterday?

“Well, I think everybody is a little more comfortable. You know they know the verbiage just a little bit better. So they were able to come out and play a little bit faster although you know they have not been in a practice format so I think fatigue – you know early this morning we had some dead legs and that picked up here later in practice. Then this afternoon picked up, so I feel like they did a good job. They are working very hard. You know for a limited amount of offense [and] defense it’s in, they are doing a good job of it.”

Has anybody jumped out and caught your eye?
“Well there has been several. I think our draft picks – they have been doing work over there – so I have seen them more on video than I have in person. Some of those D-linemen it is going to be hard to decide which D-linemen we go with because there are some that have done a nice job and that show promise. So tonight is a big night evaluating everything and meeting as a staff, and just grinding through it a little bit. Trying to make some decisions [and] then we have one more workout tomorrow.”

What is a roundabout number of guys you might keep?
“Well, you know we are allowed to have 90 so we will probably just kind of mix in with the roster that is already established so I don’t know what that number will be. Many of these guys as we think can help us win you know. If we don’t fill the 90 we don’t feel that’s okay too because you know there’s (as you know better than I do even) that’s a continual process. You continue to bring guys in all the time. I remember when I was coaching in Chicago I was the guy who went and worked them out every Tuesday. So that will be something we keep doing.”

What was your early impression on Barron and what see on his tape so far?
“Oh same things you see on his college tape. He is a very good athlete — explosive. You know he had the surgery so he is recovered from that, and you can see he is not 100 percent, but he is a very explosive athlete who has great body control. More importantly I have enjoyed talking football with him and in meetings and things. I think he has done a good job.”

What do you see in local guy Leonard Johnson and what you see in him?
“Leonard is a good football player. We saw him—when you place him in the bowl game you watch all 12 of their games and he continued throughout every game that we watched– he showed up. So I had a good idea what kind of player he was. Then when we went through the draft evaluations again I thought he was a good player. I thought we got a real opportunity with Leonard. I thought it was a good chance he might get drafted so the fact that we were able to get him as a free agent—you are right he is home so it is kind of neat for him. So he has a done a nice job so far.”

How difficult is it to evaluate linemen in particular without contact?
“It is hard. You know what you try to evaluate is their suddenness – their explosion into a sled. There is an old saying among coaches you have to learn to beat a sled first before you can be a man. If the sled hits your back you got a problem. So we were able to do a lot of that work. Then you can see their flexibility. The way they can turn their body. Defensive line although they are big guys they have to be flexible. They need to be able to contort their bodies in ways to rush the passer that are not necessarily normal so we were able to get a good look at that.”  

How about the fullback position and blocking?
“There is a lot you can see out here. And again, with the sled, the suddenness, the way they can shock a sled. But until you do it when a guy’s trying to hit you back, when you’re leaning on a linebacker or a defensive end, it’s a different story and we’ll see that when we get to camp. But you need to be able to do all the other things that put you in a position to do that, and the thing that often is lost I think with the fullback is he’s got to be able to move. I could block someone if he promised to stay still. So we need who’s able to adjust, who has body control, those types of things. If they have that, then the only missing piece is the contact piece. But we can see that form the college tape, if they’re willing to hit and have the athletic ability to change direction when the guy moves.”

Will Tandy be playing corner or safety and decision on that and why?
“He has great zone ball skills so I think that would afford him to be … some guys are just man to man guys – I got that guy. Other than that they struggle. He’s not. He’s a complete defensive back. He has zone skills, man skills, press skills, off skills, so that’s really why we just need to see where he fits best right now with the Bucs today. I think he does have versatility that we’re going to be able to mix and match where needed.”

Can you talk about Tandy’s awareness?
“Some guys are just like that. They have a skill, a knack, whatever you want to call it and I have, unfortunately, seen it up close and personal too many times. He’s a very instinctual player.”

Are you imagining all the ways can utilize Michael Smith’s speed when you watch him?
“He is fast, I tell you that, and explosive. And you see it out here but when you watch the video you really see it. He’s moving at a high rate of speed, but the thing that’s interesting is, all the running backs have pretty good speed, even the free agent guys we brought in. So it’s been fun to watch. And that’s not always the case. Sometimes a guy’s good at this or he’s good at that, but these guys all have some burst – which is nice.”

Are you impressed with the quality of players that go undrafted?
“Yes, I am, but having been in this league before, if you really work at your evaluations and you stick to your system, you get a draftable grade on a guy and there he is and you make it your responsibility to get him signed to a free agent contract. Mark and our assistant coaches did a great job of right after that draft, getting on guys and getting the right guys here. It’s been really good. Four workouts with this many guys in the heat, some of them aren’t ready for the heat, that’s for sure and it’s not really even that hot, but it jumped on a few of them. The interesting things about these guys is, their whole life they grew up having a coach telling them what to do and then when their senior year is over, it’s three and a half months where there’s no one telling them what to do and then they get out here and all of a sudden someone is telling them what to do again and it’s in the heat, it’s always a little bit of a shock to their system. But we’ve got a good group and it’s going to be hard to narrow it down but that’s a good problem to have.”

Schiano’s opening statement Sunday:
“A little change in plans – I don’t know if it was actually a change in plans – but we built in the opportunity to have a fifth practice if we felt we needed it. But after going through yesterday afternoon and doing all of our evaluations, the staff met last night and talked it through and I think we all agreed we had seen enough. That gave us an opportunity this morning to do some strength training things with coach butler and getting them prepared so when they do come back – are able to come back – that they can jump more midstream with our guys and get to work. That is kind of where we stand.”

How many of the tryout players do you intend to sign?
“There are going to be some guys out of that tryout group definitely we end up signing. I think we will end up signing between 22-29 guys. Now that will include some of the free agents. So I’m saying total. In my mind that includes adding to the guys we have been working with. I’m not sure if the 14 we signed are still going to be with us. We look at it – I am always that way – that you go out there and evaluate regardless of what has been done. Just evaluate the player and that is what we did. What happens at this time is getting in touch with agents, it is making sue the players want to do it (sign) so before I announce things I want to make sure that everything we want, is what they want. So that will probably go out tomorrow.”

What about former LSU QB Jordan Jefferson?
There are three guys they asked if they guys asked if it would be all right if you guys visited with them and I said yes. Because they are going to be with us moving forward. At least for some time. Again this is day-to-day. This roster is a fluid thing and we are going to kind of keep it moving.”

What did Jefferson show you in these past three days?
“The other day someone asked that and he is an athletic guy with strong arm and we wanted to gauge his development as a quarterback and I thought he made consistent improvement all weekend. Each practice he got better. And there is a lot of upside there. So I think we would like to have chance to work with him. And we will go from there.”

What about former Rutgers and Buccaneers player Derrick Roberson?
“I’ve known Derrick since he was a senior in high school, a junior in high school. And he loves to play the game of football. This is the highest level of football in the world and he wants to play at this level so he’s willing to do just about whatever to have the opportunity to do it. Coming here and being able to stick around is a long way from playing in the national football league, we know that. But to get to step 10 you’ve got to go through step 7, 8, 9 and 10. So he’s trying to go step by step and we’ll kind of play it by ear and see how it goes.”

Does your familiarity with former players have any impact on signing them to the Bucs?
“Some of the guys I’m very familiar with if they’re available and I think they have a chance to help us. But again, it will never be because of my previous relationships that will ever cloud my vision on what’s best with the Buccaneers. That’s exactly what I share with them. I want you to be here and I want this to work because I appreciate your skills and your work ethic but at the end of the day, I have one responsibility and that’s to the Buccaneers. So I’m going to do what’s best for them. As long as everyone understand that going in…not that it’s easy when you have to tell someone they’re not going to work here anymore, that’s the way that it is. That’s professional sports. Quite frankly, that was one of the parts that I did not enjoy in professional football. But there’s a lot that I do so you take the good with the bad. Everyone of the guys that I’ve coached or coached against, that feels they have a special relationship or different relationship with me from familiarity, I make it clear out the gate, I do what’s best with the Bucs. If you’re good with that, let’s roll. All of them understand.”

Have you noticed leadership from the top picks?
“Yes and no. I kind of noticed it more around the facility. We broke those guys off quickly so they were kind of leading each other, groups of two and three working together. I didn’t spend a lot of time watching them other than video and it’s hard to tell leadership on video. But in the building I saw it. In the meeting with me, I met with these guys as well. I can see why they were leaders on their team which is important. Now, I don’t expect them to come in here and be leaders on our team. I expected them to come in and do their job and earn that respect that they earned in their previous situation. You earn that by doing things the right way and by making plays. It takes both.”

Any draft picks disappoint?
“No. I was pleased with those guys.”

How did Tandy and Goode look in the mini-camp?
“I think they’re both good players. I’ve seen that over the years and I saw that over the evaluation and I saw that this weekend. You don’t get to see how they learn and what kind of people they are. I really enjoyed both of them. I enjoyed being around them. I don’t’ get to actually coach a lot of the details in this setting but my coaches report back to me and said very good learners. Those are things you look for. That’s exciting.”

Will the draft picks all be here when OTAs start?
“I believe they will be. We’re checking one or two dates, but I believe they will be here. We’ll be in Phase II of, but the rookie program starts that Monday, May 14, the beginning, when you can start the rookie program so anyone that is able, we’ll full expect to be here on May 14.”
Can you explain the two-drink rule you have imposed in meetings this weekend?
 “It’s very easy for guys to lose track of hydration and when you get thirsty it’s too late. Especially here. It was in the high 80s yesterday and you’ve got guys here form Syracuse and Toledo and Rutgers, it’s not exactly steaming up there these days. So I think it’s very important. It’s going to be important year-round. It’s only going to get warmer and we really have to work very very hard to stay hydrated all the time. We had to do that at Rutgers, but here it’s even more important, And those kind of things, you try to control the things you can control because this game has so many things you can’t control, that get thrown at you and you have to react to. The things you can be pro-active on we want to do that and hydration is one of those things.”
What were the Buccaneers thoughts on Leonard Johnson heading into the draft?
“I can’t really tell you why other peopled didn’t select him in the draft. I knew our needs and where we had our draftable grades and those things, and it just didn’t fit for us to draft him. I did think he was going to get drafted. So I was very pleased when we had an opportunity to sign him as a free agent. I’ve known Leonard for a while as well and I know his coach very well. Just positive all the way through. We used to do summer camps down here when I was at Rutgers and Leonard was actually in one of our summer camps down here. I didn’t know it when we took him but he showed me a picture of he and I that we took with every camper, so that was kind of neat. And having played against him in the bowl game, when you prepare for a bowl game you have every tape and you watch every tape and he just kept jumping off the vide as a guy that made plays and that had a lot of skill, so it’s good to have him here, he’s a local guy which has got to be cool for him and he’ll compete and we’ll see where he ends up.”
Did you recruit Johnson?
“I don’t think we did, because I would have remembered him if he went down the road, so we made a mistake on that one, that’s for sure. We’ve made more than our share.”

Did you recruit Tandy and Goode?
“No they’re from areas that we really didn’t recruit very well.”

Last modified on Sunday, 06 May 2012 12:20

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  • avatar

    I enjoy the coaxhes evaluation-GO BUCS
  • avatar

    EG is done. He's also a FA, so no, he doesn't count.
  • avatar

    buccaneerNW, thank you for that answer. I wasn't sure.
  • avatar

    Thank you Mark, I look forwarded in hearing PR's take so far on what they have seen which I know is not much at this point. PR does the Unrestricted Free Agents like Earnest Graham count towards that 90 Count?
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