Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith wasted little time making it official Friday afternoon: the starting quarterback position is rookie Jameis Winston’s to lose.

Bucs GM Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith aren't fans of "Hard Knocks" – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PRBut even before announcing the day’s biggest news – a decision most fans assumed was coming, anyway – Smith made it a point to address one of the team’s most glaring weaknesses entering training camp.

Prior to opening up Friday afternoon’s press conference to questions, Smith let it be known that the Bucs’ unsettled situation on the offensive line will remain that way until pads come on and live action begins.

“When you evaluate linemen, it’s pretty hard to evaluate them when you don’t get a chance to practice in pads,” Smith said during his opening statement. “In about three days or so we’ll be in pads and be able to get some better evaluation on some of our players.

“I felt like we had a good start to our offseason program, kind of setting the direction we wanted to go. But now it’s about finishing it.”

Smith was noncommittal on specific position battles outside of placing Winston atop the quarterback depth chart, but his unsolicited mention of a unit that struggled to open running lanes and protect passers last year highlights how critical improved play in that area will be in 2015.

Heading into tomorrow’s first practice, two of five starting positions along the line appear to be there to earn. Barring injury, center Evan Smith, left guard Logan Mankins and right tackle Demar Dotson are expected to be back as starters. That leaves left tackle and right guard up in the air.

Second-round draft picks Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet will be given opportunities to win jobs at left tackle and right guard, respectively, but will have plenty of competition from a group that includes Kevin Pamphile, Garrett Gilkey, Patrick Omameh, Kadeem Edwards.

“I haven’t talked to all of our football team about the depth chart and where our starting rotation will begin, but we just started on meetings this morning,” Smith said. “This afternoon we’ll start getting into football a little bit more, but we’re going to be a good football team. We realize there are areas we need to improve but now it’s time for all that talk to cease and we get to work on the practice field.”

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About the Author: Eric Horchy

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warren
warren
5 years ago

The OL gave up more than three (3) sacks per game last year (52 total), and Ali Marpet will be the first Hobart U. player to play in the NFL since 1937 (Freddie King – Brooklyn Dodgers). Yikes! [fingers crossed]

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BucWild02
BucWild02
5 years ago

Regarding Marpet, he has the size, smarts and talent regardless of the school he attended. It’s like Mankins said, the last measurable is his toughness and we are sure to find that out over the next few weeks and months. I am a believer and I’m glad the Bucs moved up and got him and New England didn’t (considering they were one of the teams known to have coveted him.) Regarding Donovan Smith, no one else on the Bucs roster has taken more snaps at LT in the last 3 years. Having expressed that, Pamphile and Edwards might be better… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast
5 years ago

Hard to believe scouting reports as they differ so much. Some say he has slow feet, others say no. Some say he doesn’t show enough effort while at the same time they say he is athletically gifted.
Of course great golfers don’t show much effort in their swings while they are carving up a course while I do when I bungle my way around 18 holes.
What I do know for sure is against Dallas’ top DE pick he completely shut him down and dominated him.
“The proof,” as Warren Sapp used to say, “is in the pudding.”

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georgehicks
georgehicks
5 years ago

I think that there may be 2 unknowns that will make the offense line and be starting by the end of the regular season-go bucs

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seat26
seat26
5 years ago

If Smith cannot make the starting lineup we are in trouble. Marpet, better be starting at some point this season. We need to have a year when someone from the draft other than the first player makes a difference.

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