TAMPA,FL — For the past several weeks, even going as far back as mini-camp, Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith has stressed the need to be “Carolina Ready,” in reference to the starting the regular season versus the Panthers for Week 1.
Following their 16-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the preseason opener Friday night, it was evident in Smith’s eyes that they aren’t ready yet, making this week’s training camp practices very important going forward.
“We didn’t play as well as we need to,” said Coach Smith. “We realize we’re not “first-game-of the season” ready yet, but normally there’s a big improvement from game one to game two. And that’s what we plan on doing.”
The Buccaneers returned to practice Sunday afternoon, with a change at starting right guard. Offensive lineman Jace Daniels worked with the first-team offensive line today, replacing Jamon Meredith who will now concentrate on being a tackle.
“Jamon didn’t play as well as he needed to,” Smith said following practice. “We realize that he can play guard and tackle, so we’re going to let him concentrate a little bit more at the tackle position and give that next group of guards an opportunity. Jace is the next guy up.”
Daniels had been shifting between guard and center, filling in for C Evan Dietrich-Smith when he was out a couple camp practice. He is hoping to make a big impact.
“It’s a big opportunity for me and I need to step up,” Daniels said. “I think I did decent today and tomorrow I just have to have that much better of a day.”
Daniels will not be given the starting job, at least not yet. Lovie Smith and is staff is fiddling with multiple looks on the offensive line and every other position based on Friday’s result.
“As a new staff, we want to look at different combinations and see how it plays out,” shared Smith. “This is one we’re going to look at right now.”
“There’s no position on the field where we were just totally satisfied and feel like we’re game ready – everyone can get a lot better.”
Speaking of getting better, CB Alterraun Verner was back in full pads today for the first time since aggravating his hamstring at the beginning of camp. Verner of course was absent for Friday’s game, and doesn’t want to rush back into things.
“It felt good just to have some pads on and just doing some movement with the team,” Verner said. “I just did individuals today, I’m just taking it back slowly and seeing how feel.”
Also feeling better is safety Dashon Goldson. He also missed the game resting a leg injury. Goldson had been practicing last week on a limited basis. Lovie Smith has given him the green light to play this weekend against the Dolphins.
“Dashon Goldson, of course coming back off an injury, but he’ll play this week,” Smith confirmed. “The plan was to hold him out the first preseason game.”
“I’m feeling good,” Goldson stated. “I think our athletic trainer has been doing a good job, Coach has been taking it easy on me early on in training camp, getting me back feeling right and right now I think I’m feeling really good.”
With starters returning to practice it should give the coaching staff a better feel for what the depth chart will look like. Something that Lovie Smith says is more important compared to last week.
“The depth chart hasn’t really meant an awful lot until this past week’s game,” Lovie explained. “And now, it does mean a little more because we have something concrete to kind of go off of as a starting spot, which we’ve done.”
The Buccaneers return to practice Monday afternoon at 4:30pm. For more in-depth Bucs coverage, visit PewterReport.com for the latest!