After the 10th and final OTA practice ended on Friday, the Bucs will have three mandatory mini-camp practices next week from June 4-6 before having some time off until training camp starts in late July. These practices have given coach Bruce Arians the opportunity to see most of his team up and close and personal for the first time.

There is still a long way to go before the season kicks off in September, and changes to the roster will be made, but these practices have given Arians and his staff the time to analyze the players early on and figure out where the direction of this team is going so far.

“I think we accomplished everything that we set out to accomplish these OTAs,” Arians said. “I like where we’re at. Obviously we need a lot more work. We’re not a finished product by any stretch.”

That product will be changing rather quickly, as Arians stated that he will be bringing in some veterans during mini-camp to build more competition and truly get the best 90 players on the roster without naming any names.

“Next week will be fun,” Arians said. “We’ll add some faces, some veteran tryout guys to see how we get to 90 to go to camp and continue to grow as a team. Like I tell the guys, we won’t be a finished product until we get down to 53. There are 90 guys looking for a job and we’ll keep churning that roster until we find the best 53.”

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Arians was happy to state that the Bucs worked hard during the OTAs and he’s gotten everything he could want from his guys.

“So far so good,” Arians said. “It’s just a matter of the tempo in which we practice is different, the way we practice is different. Getting two fields, guys have acclimated really well to it, couldn’t ask for any more effort or enthusiasm – maybe better execution – but we’ll get to that.”

Arians had originally planned to cancel the entire last day of practice, though he still felt that the Bucs needed to work out some kinks at practice, including the execution he discussed.

Instead, only the defensive line and a couple of veterans were given the day off for the group to go golfing. Mike Alstott had a charity golf event on Friday, so he wanted some of the guys to bond another way.

“We wanted to support Mike first of all, his foundation,” Arians said. “My whole goal all along was to cancel this practice totally, but we just weren’t far enough along, so that’s what I told him last night. It’s a great fundraiser, I’m hoping those guys have a good time, there was a bunch of young guys that were scared to go play, and they probably shouldn’t, veterans, it’s okay.”

As necessary as it is to get reps in, Arians also sees the importance of building that team identity on and off the field. When he had a year away from coaching, Arians recalled that it was the unity that he built with others that he missed most. That probably explains why he had some of his former players from Temple – the first team he ever was a head coach for – at practice on Friday. It’s that type of sentiment that he’s looking to instill in the Bucs.

“That’s always been the fun part,” Arians said. “Working with Jason (Licht), all our scouts and coaches, building a team and an identity. People want to say ‘culture’ but I call it an identity. That’s the most fun in this business – building relationships. You saw all these kids from Temple from back in the ’80’s that I’m still close to, building relationships is what I missed the most when I wasn’t coaching.”

The emphasis on team-building is what Arians thinks will make the Bucs a team that works better than others. It’s what makes a team aggressive even in practices where they’re not wearing pads and technically are not allowed to hit their opponent. Arians saw enough though to confidently predict that the team’s aggressive nature will carry over once the pads are on in training camp.

“That part’s really hard,” Arians said. “We talk about being smart, fast, and physical, but the physical part we have to wait. You can only do so much in shorts. But I like the attitude and what we’re practicing and I see that transferring over to practice very very quick.”

Bucs DT Ndamukong Suh
Bucs DT Ndamukong Suh – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Adding to this mindset of course is the addition of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Much has been made of Suh’s reputation for playing with an edge to his game, with sometimes taking it too far. Many also believe that this edge was needed for the Bucs. Arians will tell you though that the Bucs have had it this whole time.

“It’s already happened,” Arians said in regards to having his defense play with a mentality like Suh. “He’s just going to fit in with the rest of the guys now. They’re playing that way.”

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21 COMMENTS

  1. Do you know which vets? That’d be interesting to see who they work out.

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  2. I hope they bring in 10 Veteran Olineman Haha…

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  3. I asked this question of Greg Auman/TheAthletic this morning…..

    Bruce Arians talked about having new faces (veteran tryout players) at minicamp next week and continuing to churn his roster before training camp. Do you have any idea what positions that might be? What they’re trying to improve?

    Here was his response……

    I made calls to 5-6 of the top available free agents last night. It isn’t anyone big like Claiborne or Derrick Morgan or Bilal Powell.

    I don’t think anybody knows at this point. Just have to wait and see what BA is up to. He said that he is looking for that missing piece. This implies that there is a piece/pieces missing. Never a dull moment! Go Bucs!

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  4. Hopefully O lineman as Spitfire mentioned.

    I read over the past week or so that the Bucs O line is the FOURTH HIGHEST PAID in the NFL. That’s insane.

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  5. Dman, for the production we got out of it last year you are right.
    Licht has vastly overpaid both Marpet and our center. Sorry folks, but what Donovan Smith is making is the going rate for serviceable RT’s.
    Of course a line is only as good as it’s weakest link and last year Benonoch was like a turnstile at RG and every team took advantage of it.
    This all started when Logan Mankins retired and for four years all Licht had to do was leave Marpet at RG and draft or pickup a viable LG. He has done everything but and I can only guess it is because he is trying to prove how smart and clever he is.

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  6. More people competing for positions will only make the team better.
    Like Spitfire and Dman,Ihope they concentrate and bring in some OL and DL.
    We sure don’t need anymore WR’s, TE’s or DB’s.

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  7. This would maybe be just fine if he were a RT. On the left, he’s been a liability and is among the lowest rated at his position. Two huge problems gave him his contract.

    1. NFL teams do not easily let good LT’s hit free agency. Any that do, and none were available this year, receive monster contracts. Even if one were available better than Smith, he would have gotten significantly more $$$ elsewhere.

    2. The absolute inability to recognize that the best OL players are found in the top 40-50 of each draft. There are fewer late round/FA LT’s who are worth much. Even if Licht had drafted OL high he likely would have missed. He’s hung his proverbial jock on Marpet’s resume.

    “Sorry folks, but what Donovan Smith is making is the going rate for serviceable RT’s.”

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  8. I am okay with D. Smith and Marpet being paid. Jenkins probably was too much and I said as much when Bruce Allen overpaid for Faine.

    But this shows why the Bucs need to keep drafting trenches. Especially true at the OL because that is the only way to control the salary cap costs with the trenches. If BB and Patriots understand this then the Bucs should too.

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  9. I would like to see veterans brought in at edge rusher, offensive tackle and inside line backer.

    But it will be interesting to see the tryout players that show up Monday.

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  10. Not having the team constantly in obvious passing situations and then rarely throwing quick passes to the RB’s will make Donovan Smith much better.

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  11. Couldn’t help noticing the Bucs practiced half the OTA’s indoors. I’m glad to see B.A. using the damn thing. Koetter would always say it’s to hard to get 90 guys indoors to practice, so B.A.’s already figured out a way to do something Koetter couldn’t. No music, no ping pong, no nonsense, making the best use of the tools you have for better practices. I like what I’m seeing so far. You can already tell this staff, and B.A. for sure, are head, and shoulders above Koetter, and his crew.

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  12. Well Arians has experience which allows him flexibility.

    Bad weather outside? No problem go inside and split the field to have “two practice fields”. Missing too many OL to have two practices going at the same time? No problem just have the skill position players lower on the depth chart have a shot to work with the first tier players. Also helps to see the progress of the bottom of the depth chart compared to the top too on tape.

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  13. Funny how that works huh? A LT goes up against the other team’s top pass rusher for the entire game. That job is tough enough, then if he give that edge rusher the unfair advantage of knowing the QB has to drop back in pass almost every play, the LTs job becomes nearly impossible to not give up pressures. Add an offense that is vertical in nature and a QB that likes to hold the ball, good luck Chuck.

    But most these Buc fans just see the QB getting sacked or hit and quckly blame the LT. And go to ridiculous sites that ranked them without any situational analysis done.

    Now let’s pretend the Bucs actually have the lead in games and are running the football effectively and calling for some quicker passing plays. I wonder how mixg better the LT might look. Kinda like the LT in NE last year. I wonder how that same player will look if Oakland plays from behind and the QB holds the ball. I’m guessing he will give up more sacks in his first year in Oakland then he did his entire games started in NE.

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  14. Comment above in response to Scubog’s spot on post.

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  15. Good news Bucs fans I just read The great Bruce Arians has fixed the secondary! Hargraves and 7 unknowns will now keep Cam ,Drew and Matt up late at night worrying. ALSO The Great Bruce will find several vets that have been cut released or injured on other teams and fix them. THE SEASON NOW LOOKING GREAT!

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  16. PHUC-ASS-BOB, where would we be without your intellectual insight and analysis? ALSO, it is so good to see someone on here who obviously was an English major in college

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  17. I was just happy to see Bob FINALLY enter a positive post!! Good to hear he is coming around and finally realizing that the Bucs might actually be OK this season! Haha

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  18. Sorry about the typo on Smith being a RT instead of a LT which is what he obviously is. After that small miscue, I stand on everything else I stated.

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  19. Fanofdabucs. Come on, that sounds like something Belichek would do. Oh yea, that’s right, it is what he did last year when be lost his starting LT.

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  20. @drdneast it started before that: one of his first moves was to cut Davin Joseph and bring in O’Neil Cousins to pair with Garret Gilkey as our Guards. OUCH!!! That tandem was widely panned by fans on PR and experts elsewhere going into the preseason.

    He then went in to the draft and, come our 3rd round pick, he had the choice to take one of the top-rated OGs in the draft (Gabe Jackson from Mississippi State), but instead he chose an obscure 3rd down RB out of WVA (Charles Sims). Jackson has been consistently ranked as “above average” or better by pff – loved by Raiders fan sites.

    Seemingly admitting his rookie mistake after 1 preseason game, in which Josh Freeman ran for his life, Licht made the trade for Logan Mankins. There seemed to be a ray of hope for our GM.

    However, as you noted, he seemingyl still thinks Logan Mankins is on our roster, for he has done a big fat zilcho to address the enormous hole that has been left at Guard every since Mankins retired.

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  21. Sorry – Josh McCown, not Freeman….it was the time of the Josh….what can I say.

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