Bucs’ offensive lineman Ali Marpet confirmed on Monday what has already been widely reported this offseason.
The Bucs starting guard the past two seasons is moving to center starting with Phase II of the Bucs OTAs (offseason team activities).
And who better to study the position from?
“I got a really long cut up of (Falcons’ Pro Bowler) Alex Mack’s tape, pretty much his whole entire season and I really like the way he plays, he is always in a good position,” Marpet said. “He’s a good player.”
Later, Marpet talked about what makes Mack the Pro Bowl talent that he is.
“He is able to kind of slow the game down,” Marpet said. “He never puts himself in a bad position. He is so precise with everything he does. His footwork, his hands, he is just never out of balance. I don’t know how he is able to do it, because the game is so fast.”
Marpet was asked how the transition to center came to be.
“All I know is that when we do Phase II I’ll be playing center,” Marpet said. “I think the rationale is that coach Koetter wants to put the best five (linemen) on the field, whoever that is, that is the reason why. So I will start off at center and see how it plays out.
“(But) I am excited to try and play center. It will be new to me, I’ve gotten some reps at it, but to play real snaps at center will be different.”
Bucs RG Ali Marpet – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Bucs have the luxury of a hopefully healthy J.R. Sweezy this season, and that option gives the Bucs the opportunity to be more flexible across the line. Marpet talked about why the move to center made sense in the eyes of the coaching staff.
“I believe coach Koetter says, it makes a little bit bigger, is one thing,” Marpet said. “So Sweezy at guard and me at center I believe does make us a little bit bigger. I think that, honestly I would be a pretty good center. I prefer to have a smaller space so I think I will be able to succeed there. But coach coach Koetter and coach Hop (offensive line coach George Warhop) sees something there.”
Tampa Bay re-signed Joe Hawley offseason, and the team still has former starter at center Evan Smith. Marpet was asked if his move to center could cause some animosity among the unit.
“No, no one takes it personal,” Marpet said. “Even when Joe Hawley started two years ago over Evan Smith, no one ties it personally.
“Evan is super helpful and always has been helpful, even when I was learning to play guard, so I know he will point things out and be like a second coach.”
Regardless of how it plays out this offseason, Marpet is owning the position for now.
“I don’t know what coach Koetter said, but if they re putting me there, it’s my job.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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