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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs players say they trust Lovie, would welcome Incognito



Lovie Smith tells his team to embrace any player who walks into the Bucs locker room. Richie Incognito would be no different.

Expressing complete trust in Smith and general manager Jason Licht, Bucs players asked Monday about the possibility of Incognito joining their team said they would welcome him 'with open arms.'

Incognito is visiting the Bucs today, making One Buc Place the first NFL facility he has appeared in since being implicated in the Jonathan Martin bullying scandal with the Miami Dolphins last season.

The harassment by Incognito and fellow offensive linemen John Jerry and Mike Pouncey contributed to Martin's departure from the team in October. Incognito was suspended by the Dolphins for the final eight games of the season.

"I don't make the decisions. I leave that to the guys upstairs,'' defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "But as far as I'm concerned, as long as he can help the team, I'm all for it. I played against him a couple times, he's a good player, a Pro Bowl guy, a vet and I think he can help.''

Asked about Incognito's behavior off the field with the Dolphins, McCoy said, "That's fine, but he would be coming to my team so some stuff would have to change.

There won't be any issues. If we were to sign him, he could come in and help and that would be it. If there were any issues, it would be dealt with accordingly between us and then we would move forward.''

Bucs center Evan Dietrich-Smith said if Incognito could improve the play of the offensive line, he would support the decision to sign him.

"It's a business, and if they think bringing somebody in can help our business, then that's what they're going to do,'' Dietrich-Smith said. "We're in the business of winning and that's what you do at the end of the day in the NFL.

"I can't read a book and know how he is first-hand. I trust the decision-makers upstairs. If they think it's a good idea, we'll see how it goes. Until that point, I don't have an opinion either way.''

The Bucs struggled at the offensive guard position the first three preseason games. The team showed improvement in a 24-14 win at Buffalo Saturday, but not enough to prevent Smith and Licht from contacting one of the most polarizing players of 2013.

Dietrich-Smith said he liked the progress of starting guards Oniel Cousins and Patrick Omameh and said the Bucs are not desperate to add to the position.

"I wouldn't say desperation,'' Dietrich-Smith said. "I don't see it as that. From what I understand, they don't bring anybody in unless they think they can help us win games. If they believe he can help us win games, that's the way it's going to be. But from what I've seen, and from how my guys are playing right now, I think we're taking steps in the right direction. I think those guys are improving. It's getting there. It's getting Week 1 ready. We won the football game (Saturday), the defense played really well, the offense put some points on the board and moved it up and down the field. It was an improvement, we got a win in the column and that's what you want.''

But defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, who played against Incognito one game when he was with Miami and McDonald was with the Seahawks, said the Bucs could use the swagger and aggressiveness that Incognito brings to the offensive line.

"I think he's a hard-nosed player,'' McDonald said. "From watching film on him, he's pretty good with his sets, running blocking and things like that. I think he'll add the temperment and attitude we need on this team.''

"To be honest, we all have problems, we all face difficulties in our life, but I think he's going to do a great job here.''

[Last modified: Monday, August 25, 2014 4:23pm]


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