TAMPA,FL — In their final practice before their preseason opener, the Buccaneers decided to go light in shells (shoulder pads & helmets) and go through the final preparations for the Jacksonville Jaguars Friday night.
For head coach Lovie Smith, it will be his first time on the sidelines coaching an NFL game since December 30th, 2012 with Chicago. He has coached in the NFL and college for decades. But no matter how many times it’s been, Smith is very excited for the start of an NFL season.
“There was excitement for the first game every year, that’s not gonna change no matter how many you’ve done,” Smith stated to the media. “First or twentieth year, it’s all the same. There’s excitement for it.”
Smith gave a little insight into how long the starters will stay in the game. Everyone else has the potential to go the whole way.
“As a general rule, if you’re one of the starters, about a quarter or so,” Smith revealed. “The rest of the time, we’ll look at reps, see how the game’s going. But for them, we’re going to ask all the guys to stay in the game the entire time because you just never know.”
One of those starters is quarterback Josh McCown, who will play his first game in a Buccaneers uniform. With many new pieces on offense and a new system to learn, McCown’s goals revolve around execution.
“I think it’s just going out and executing and being clean with things procedurally number one,” McCown said. “In these games you don’t game plan for people and obviously you’re not rolling out your best stuff, but within the rules and within the framework of your system, you want to try and execute it as best as possible – that’s the key for us Friday.”
Other veterans like linebacker Mason Foster are really anxious to put all the hard work they’ve put into the offseason and training camp, and apply to the field for the first time against an opponent.
“We had a great offseason, OTAs and mini-camp,” said Foster. “Guys hit it hard. We knew that this was a great defense for us with the guys that we have, this would be a good fit for us. So we studied hard man and now we’re ready to go.”
Safety Mark Barron is looking forward to applying the new defensive scheme to the field, and is ready to make plays.
“The way this defense is set up really is for the safeties to make plays,” said Barron. “And they put us in good positions to make plays. “The thing about this defense is there’s not too much thinking going on. It allows us to play fast. It just allows you to play more off instinct.”
And for rookies like sixth-round pick wide receiver Robert Herron, every opportunity in a preseason game is critical to make a statement. Which is one of the reasons why he’s been getting extra work.
“It’s very important,” said Herron. “Before practice and after practice, getting the extra work in and just to feel more comfortable about things.”
The Buccaneers take on the Jacksonville Jaguars Friday night at EverBank Field. For more in-depth Bucs coverage, go to PewterReport.com for the latest.