Returning from a bye week, the Bucs were able to get in an extra day of practice Monday and the team made the most of its once-a-season opportunity.
Speaking after practice, coach Dirk Koetter said the Bucs took advantage of the extended week of preparation by spending more time in individual drills on Monday. Refining technique and getting a few extra reps, Koetter said, was more important than diving into the game plan – which normally kicks off the first practice of the week.
“They had a lot of energy. It was great to get some guys out there who we hadn’t had in a while,” Koetter said. “On these extra practices we tend to give more reps to our younger guys, but our younger guys had been playing a lot anyway, [due to injuries]. But we give our other quarterbacks a little bit more work. We give a little more attention in our individual [drills], spend a little more time in individual.
“There’s no game plan involved yet. I enjoy those practices. The energy was high and I feel like we got something done.”
The biggest thing, Koetter said, was getting players like Louis Murphy, Luke Stocker and Cecil Shorts back in action. Guard JR Sweezy, who was placed on the reserve/PUP list prior to the season, hasn’t been given the 21-day window to return, but Koetter said that’s a decision the medical staff will eventually make.
After having the chance to reflect on the first five weeks, Koetter said he’s proud of the way the Bucs have responded to adversity through the first quarter of the season. Whether it’s recovering from a tough loss or overcoming a multitude of injuries – particularly along the defensive line and at running back – the Bucs have stayed poised and kept grinding.
“Our guys are coming to work, learning what they have to do and they’re trying to do it,” Koetter said when asked to reflect on season so far. “As a coach, when you have guys freelancing or going off the reservation, that’s frustrating. When guys are trying to do what they’re coached to do, they’re competing and giving good effort …
“You’re going to get beat sometimes, and obviously we come in here and detail why we got beat,” Koetter continued. “Everybody would like to be 5-0, but not many teams are. We’ve also done a good job of weathering some difficult storms from an injury standpoint. It’s one thing to test your depth when your injuries are spread out across the team, but we’ve been hit particularly hard at two positions: defensive line and running back. I’m proud of the way our guys have hung in there and we’ve had guys step up at both positions.”
Now the Bucs are hopeful they’ll return a few key players at those positions this week, including Doug Martin, Gerald McCoy, Robert Ayers and Clinton McDonald. If that’s the case, Tampa Bay would be set up nicely heading into San Francisco. As Koetter noted, the team is right in the thick of things, especially in the NFC South after losses by Atlanta (4-2) and Carolina (1-5) during the Bucs week off.
“I think you just look around at the league, other than two or three teams that have jumped out to really fast starts, I think the league has shrunk up and come back together and fortunately we were able to get that win last Monday night. I think our guys can see the light, that if we play good football – complimentary football, where we don’t turn it over and get some takeaways on the other side – that we can be right there.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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