With the first preseason game looming, offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford and head coach Lovie Smith have been implementing more situational drills into training camp. During Sunday’s practice, they worked on a live goal-line situation. Then on Monday, they worked on their two-minute offense.
At this point, Tedford says most of the offense has been put in.
“Pretty much all of it [has been installed],” Tedford said. “There’s bits and pieces. There’s probably 15-20 percent that’s more game oriented that we haven’t gotten to yet because they really have consumed a lot of information over a short amount of time. So now it’s time to get back to basics a little bit. But they understand the concepts and now we can move on with the game plan as we get into the regular season.”
Tedford is anxious to take the field on Friday night so his offense can compete against new faces and a new defense. In Monday’s practice the defense started to take the upper hand in 11-on-11 because the offense has become much more recognizable to the defense.
“It was very evident today that our guys have seen our stuff a lot,” Tedford said. “We’ve had a really good camp, very efficient, but the defense got the better of it today, so you’re right, they have seen our stuff over and over again, so it will be nice to just go in and hit new bodies and execute against different people.”
Tedford got a lot of new, young weapons in the draft when the Bucs picked all offensive players. One of those weapons is rookie running back Charles Sims, who has had a good camp thus far, and is making a case to back up Doug Martin.
“He’s a big guy that’s very elusive, has great feet and really good skills catching the football and running routes,” Tedford said. “He understands pass protections. For a young guy he’s really picked that up really, really well, which is something that you’re always concerned about with young guys coming in. But he’s done a really nice job of that. Coach Spencer has done a great job with him.”
The Bucs are deep at running back going into the preseason. Aside from Martin and Sims, the Bucs also have Bobby Rainey, who played well when he replaced an injured Martin last season. They also have the speedy Jeff Demps, and second-year player Mike James, who played well last season, but was injured half way through the season.
“Well we are very deep there,” Tedford said. “I’m very impressed by their knowledge. They all bring something a little bit different. They all have skill, they all catch the football really well. They’re smart and they can run between the tackles. They have speed on the outside and so I think they’re really versatile guys and so it’s a good group of guys to work with and I’m really excited to watch them in a game.”
One of the bigger competitions heading into training camp was for the starting slot receiver position. With Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans on the outside, there’s still a question as to who will line up on the inside for the Bucs. Chris Owusu seems to get the most reps with the starters, but the job is still up for grabs.
“That’s still kind of up in the air,” Tedford said. “Tim Wright brings a dimension to us that, he can play tight end, he can play in the slot. He can do a lot of things as a receiver but he can still be in there and get involved in the run game. So he’s done a nice job in the slot. It’s kind of a toss up after that for the third guy in the slot.”
Tedford also didn’t have much to say about who the frontrunners are in the guard competition, which was the biggest question mark heading into training camp, especially after Carl Nicks left the team. The players in the mix so far are Jamon Meredith, Patrick Omameh, Oniel Cousins, Jason Foster, and rookie Kadeem Edwards.
“There’s time,” Tedford said. “We’ve been practicing but now we’re getting ready to go into our preseason game and game time is when people need to step up and so we’re really anxious to see guys step up in the preseason.”
The preseason games will show a lot about players that the coaches haven’t seen yet. The Bucs have barely played any live snaps, so it will be interesting to say which players shine in a real-game situation as opposed to just on the practice field. One guy who fans are anxious to see is quarterback Josh McCown, who’s looked good in camp so far.
“There’s nothing that doesn’t impress me about [McCown],” Tedford said. “He’s a great leader, he’s very intelligent. He understands the game really, really well, a student of the game and he brings that to us. He throws all the balls, understands how to touch the ball, how to drive the ball, understands protections really well. He’s like another coach on the field. He’s just a pleasure to work with. I’m really fortunate that he’s on our team and I’ve really enjoyed my time with him.”
McCown has showed a lot of leadership since joining the Bucs, which is important for the offense. The Bucs have lacked leadership at the position when Josh Freeman was at the helm, and rookie Mike Glennon just didn’t have the experience last year to be the leader that McCown is to the team now. But Glennon has had a much better camp than he did last season, which is encouraging for Bucs fans. Lovie Smith has said the Glennon is the quarterback of the future, and being able to develop and learn from a veteran like McCown should help him tremendously.
“Mike’s doing a fine job,” Tedford said. “I think he’s in a really good position that he’s got a guy like Josh to learn from. Mike did a very nice job last year as a rookie and he’s doing some really good things now, but Josh brings some of that experience and knowledge of just being around. It’s a great quarterback room. Those guys really get along well, really communicate well. It’s a great room.”
The Bucs will take the field against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday night for their first preseason game where Tedford and the Bucs revamped offense will take the field to start the game.
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