Bucs QB Josh McCown was one of the first players to arrive on reporting day early Thursday morning and took a few minutes to speak on a number of subjects, including his excitement to get the season started and the leadership he has seen since arriving in Tampa in March.
The sun was just starting to break the sky in the East when the headlights of vans, SUVs and luxury sedans began filing through the automatic gates at One Buccaneer Place on Thursday morning.
Reporting day for veterans had arrived and new Bucs quarterback Josh McCown was one of the first to walk through the player entry area to sign in.
McCown shook hands with a few of the Bucs public relations staff then walked over to the handful of reporters and television cameras chronicling and filming every step. The journeyman quarterback soon walked over to the media waiting to talk and was first asked how this camp felt, especially his first as the clear-cut starter in Tampa Bay.
“It’s the same, it’s a fun time – a fun time of year is going to camp,” McCown said. “So it is always the same feeling. You get a little bit of butterflies, nerves and anxiousness just getting started. But for me, being my 13th year, it is humbling just to be able to come do this. I am very thankful.
“But I am excited because you know where you stand going into camp. So it is definitely a little bit of a departure from different years. But I am looking forward to it.”
McCown then talked about his thoughts on this Buccaneers team versus other teams he has been a part of on reporting day.
“It is right up there at the top, just because of everything we have done through the offseason and where the focus is and where we are heading,” McCown said. “I feel like we learned a lot about ourselves this spring, what it is going to take for us to be a good football team and win football games. So now we can come in and hone that.
“And so it is exciting when you think about that, because sometimes you come to camp and you are still trying to figure things out. I feel like we kind of have a little more narrowed focus now after we have evaluated things in the spring and we have a good idea where we are headed.”
Part of McCown’s optimism and expectations for this teams stems from the leadership he has seen since joining the team as a free agent from Chicago back in March.
“Just the guys, just the type of guys in our locker room,” McCown said. “High-character guys that we have and the kind of leaders that we have. Whether it be Lavonte David or Gerald McCoy or Mason Foster. We have got guys on both sides of the ball that are good players and good people and they lead. I think when you can come into that environment in your locker room – adversity is coming, you are going to face some bumps in the road – so you want to know you have guys in the locker room that can steady the ship and be a calm voice, and I feel like we have a number of those guys.”
Both head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht have went on record telling the fans and media that this is not a rebuilding year. McCown didn’t disagree but wasn’t ready to offer up a specific win total for 2014.
“No bold predictions, we are just going to go out and play good football,” McCown said. “And see where that leads us. But I believe it we do the things we are asked to do and what the coaches have laid out, I think we will look at the end of the year and find ourselves in a favorable position. So that is all we can do right now.”
McCown’s experience in the league was evidenced when he talked about the adversity that every team will face at some point this year, but said part of his optimism is based on his teammates leadership.
“[Optimism] is at a 100 for everybody,” McCown said. “Every NFL teams feels this way right now. That is what I mean when I say what excites me, about our guys, is optimism is everywhere right now. But adversity is coming, it just does. It does for every team in the league every year. And it is how you handle that really is the measure of the your team.
“That is what I like about our guys in the locker room. I feel like we have people that can handle those bumps and really stick together. That is the key. So we are really optimistic right now. We know things will happen, but it is who we are and how we handle it that will make a difference. But right now while it is new, you have to capitalize on that and let the energy kind of build you as you put in long hours trying to get better.”
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