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April 28, 2014 @ 9:41 am
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Dietrich-Smith Stepping Up In Leadership Role For Bucs

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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The biggest changes on the Bucs roster took place across the offensive line this offseason with the release of Davin Joseph, Donald Penn and Gabe Carimi, in addition to the trade of Jeremy Zuttah. Former Packer Evan Dietrich-Smith was signed in March and is already establishing himself as a leader.
Out of all the changes made after Lovie Smith became the Buccaneers head coach back in January – and there have been many – the revamping of the offensive line stands out as the most radical and perhaps the most necessary.

As of now, three of the five starters across the line will be new faces, and by the time training camp arrives in late July there could be even more changes. Gone are long-time pewter and red fixtures tackle Donald Penn and Davin Joseph (release), starting center Jeremy Zuttah (trade) and part-time starter Gabe Carimi who was also let go.

One of the new faces that will line up as a starter on opening day in September – barring injury –  is former Packers center/guard Evan Dietrich-Smith. The bearded and tattooed lumberjack look-a-like who snapped the ball to Aaron Rodgers for 16 games in 2013 will now be the one giving it to Josh McCown in Tampa Bay.

Dietrich-Smith is getting settled in the Buccaneers locker room but said he knows a couple faces already.

“I knew Jamon [Meredith] , because me and him came in as rookies up in Green Bay," Dietrich-Smith said. "I never actually played with Carl [Nicks], but (Carl and I) actually grew up playing sports together; from the same town (in Salinas, CA). And some of the guys I’m just meeting down here. But everyone has mostly easy to get a long with. It’s the offensive line group, you know it’s not too hard for us to mesh.”

Dietrich-Smith, who started 16 games under center for Green Bay in 2013, was asked if offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford’s relationship with Aaron Rodgers might have had some bearing on Tampa Bay recruiting the former Idaho State product.

“I don’t know about that, because I think Aaron kind of wanted me back there, but since I’ve been able to meet Jeff and talk to him, you can see why he’s real easy to get along with,” Dietrich-Smith said. “He’s a real level-headed guy, he knows what he’s doing, he’s just easy to talk to.

Dietrich-Smith said it isn’t just Tedford he is fond of.

“I’m really enjoying the staff up here, everybody’s real approachable,” Dietrich-Smith said. “You can go into anybody’s office and sit down and have a conversation with them. You feel like you really get to know them and its not just about football, you can talk about life, which is really good. If you can add that kind of level of respect on the team its going to build us all closer as a staff, group, and football team."

Of all the units on a football team, the offensive line arguably has to play as one cohesive unit more than any other for a team to have success. With so many new faces Dietrich-Smith knows that will be the challenge.

“It can be difficult at times, but when you have a good coach, usually he gets guys going in the right direction,” Dietrich-Smith said. “I think (offensive line) coach [George] Warhop is an excellent line coach, he’s been in the league for multiple years, he knows his stuff. It’s going in the right direction, the rest of it falls on us making sure that we are studying and on top of our plays.”

With the release of Joseph and Penn, the Buccaneers have lost some significant leadership across the line. One of the few holdovers from last season, starting right tackle Demar Dotson, said despite the departure of his two friends, Dietrich-Smith has already begun to fill the role as vocal leader.

"I am more of a person who leads by example and goes out working hard and being the best football player I can be," Dotson said. I am not a big yeller, I am not a big screamer. That's not me. Dietrich-Smith does enough yelling for everybody. I asked him, 'Can (you) calm it down a little bit?' Nobody needs me trying to yell. That guy does enough!"

Some in the media have pegged Dietrich-Smith as primarily a pass blocking center, but according to the six-year veteran, that isn’t the case.

“I do it all man, that’s what I take most pride in, whatever they ask me to do out there I’m going to do it,” Dietrich-Smith said. “That’s how you want to be out there as a center. You don’t want to be known as (just) a pass blocking guy, because that’s not how I feel. I feel like I could be dominant in all phases and that’s what you want to be.

“If you feel like you can go out there and be a player all around, that’s what you should strive to be. But I strive to be the best because if I didn’t do that, I probably wouldn’t be where I am.”

Last modified on Monday, 28 April 2014 10:05

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  • avatar

    This team and coach have traditionally relied on veteran QB's. I would be shocked to see the Bucs take a QB in this year's draft. The OL is definitely an area that needs continued shoring up. Special talents DT Aaron Donald or WR Mike Evans should be drafted in round 1, WR or OG in round 2, OL or CB in round 3 seems most logical. Not a lot of highly graded DT's in this years draft. Maybe the Bucs roll with McCoy and McDonald with Spence/Bowers off the bench. They could really use another DT though.
  • avatar

    Dietrich-Smith seems like a lunch-pail kind of guy. I like that. In watching the Packers 2013 highlight video, I was able to check out a sampling of his play. Looked solid doubling DT's in pass pro and did a good job pulling on a few rushing plays. He mostly pass blocked in Green Bay(obviously).
  • avatar

    I now see Kiper and McShay have agreed that the Buc's will pick Evans. I guess that means it will be QB, DL or OL. Kiper and McShay need to get a REAL job because they never seem to get many picks correct, just like last year.
  • avatar

    scubog; you bring up a good point? Most of our 1st round picks have not been successful, thus our win/loss record proves it. Nope, I am sticking to OL/DL in the 1st round; it's just as risky as all our other 1st round selections and I see needs still at both those positions. Again, just because we bring in new players to fit the new scheme's doesn't mean we have leaped forward in quality until we play somebody.
  • avatar

    @scubog....I hear your point about finding the diamonds in the rough on the O line - certainly there is a large supply of OLinemen that go undrafted each year and so the odds of finding someone in that pile are higher than for say QB or WR - just purely by the numbers. However, it's hard to deny that we would be in a much better position with one of the three first round OGs from last draft (Cooper, Warmack, Long) on our team right now....and the way this draft is stacking-up it looks like the top three OGs will extend into the second round - perhaps an anomaly of having such a deep draft this year.
  • avatar

    Finally a center who has some toughness. Zuttah was a good 6th man but he always seemed to get over-powered. Before him Jeff Paine seemed more interested in his retail shops than football. Dietrich-Smith is another example of an interior offensive lineman who wasn't a top draft choice, developing and finding success. Maybe there are a few others like that already on our roster. For that reason I see no reason to spend a high pick on a guard or center. Tackle maybe. But the last tackle we drafted at # 7 (Charles McRae) didn't pan out. Neither did the one drafted at # 14 (Kenyatta Walker). The one drafted at # 4 (Paul Gruber) was great, albeit without much recognition.
  • avatar

    nice look at EDS Mark. While EDS and Collins help a lot on the OL, I think Dotson is average (that's OK) and Nicks looks at best to be a shadow of his former self (not a bad shadow of course)...hence I think that last OG position is critical for our OL and Meredith and Cousins won't cut it IMO...need an upgrade there in the draft (looking for round 2 or 3). I think in round 1 we need something serious to add to last year's WORST RANKED OFFENSE - if we can't get Watkins (even trading up a little), I'd be interested to see us trade down and get Ebron...I wouldn't be opposed to seeing a new QB coming to town either...but as I look over the landscape it seems we'll have another chance to fill that hole nicely next year (Winston, Hundley, Mariota)....
  • avatar

    Very perceptive, Kinderret. In fact if we take no QB in round One, I expect the Vikings to grab Carr right after our pick, so we best not trade down. As I see it our real needs are a starting MLB who can stop the run dead and still cover the deep seam on passes--Mad Max from Michigan St., and a backup Guard, we can get in the 5th round. As a luxury we need a backup DT from Syracuse. But the biggest necessity is to get a First Round QB to perpetuate a Buc's Dynasty. The way Josh is playing Lovie could have a SB win before Josh retires, but we need to stay on top and not have the long drought we have endured since Jon Gruden propelled us to the top. The 7th pick is our big chance to do that! I feel good about our OL after this article.
  • avatar

    The more I read about Carr I could see them picking him at 7 as he seems to fit Tedfords offense very well. They would have to take him at 7 unless they trade back because he will not make it to the second round. The leadership on this team looks to be in good hands with McCown, McCoy and now EDS stepping up.. L&L have put a good team together, all we need now is some W's.
  • avatar

    Everything for me keeps pointing to either an OL or DL is being drafted in the 1st round.
  • avatar

    Good to hear we won't have a shortage of leadership on the Bucs this year. McCown is quickly establishing himself as the team leader. Dotson says that Dietrich talks enough to surely be leader of the O-Line. Lavonte David says McCoy is the undisputed leader of the Front Seven. Dashon Goldson has proclaimed himself as leader of the secondary. With Adam Hayward gone, we need someone (maybe Dane Fletcher) to step up as leader for Special Teams and we got ourselves a leadership council! Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Thanks for the great article, Mark. Dietrich-Smith is a good football player and the Packers will miss him. I also believe the success of this upcoming season hinges on how soon the OL can play as a unit. That's not easy and involves a lot of factors. Dietrich-Smith is one of the keys. Lovie and Licht should be applauded for this "under the radar signing".
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