Evan Smith pleased with play stepping in at guard
Bucs offensive lineman Evan Smith hadn't played a single down in seven weeks, and hadn't played at guard in four years, but said he was pleased with how he handled stepping in Sunday after starter Ali Marpet went down with an ankle injury.
"It helps that throughout the first half of my career, that's pretty much the job I did," Smith said. "Once I got out there and got a little bit of a groove, it wasn't too bad. There's still some technique things I can clean up. I haven't done it in a whole while, so I just have to get comfortable in my stance, things like that."
Joe Hawley, who took over the starting center job when Smith was injured in Week 2, said Smith played well in a position he hadn't played in a while, and having another set of veteran eyes helped the line better communicate things reading the opposing defense.
"He played really well, knew what he was doing. He was prepared," Hawley said. "I was very impressed by the way he stepped in and played. It's hard, with the little different techniques going from center to guard, but he's played it before. He'll be ready to go."
Smith played the final 53 of 63 snaps Sunday, as part of a Bucs line that gave up zero sacks and rushed for 136 yards. Marpet did not practice Wednesday but said his injury will not require surgery; Smith said he'll be practicing as if he's the starting right guard until he's told otherwise.
"Having that week to prepare, playing next to Gos (Gosder Cherilus) or whoever's going to be there, just making sure we're all communicating, it's good to get a week down to prepare in that sense," he said.
Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said he was happy with the way Smith stepped in without significant dropoff on the line after Marpet's injury.
"He did really well. That was awesome," Koetter said. "For a guy who's played the majority of his time (at center). In college, he was a tackle -- at Idaho State, let's not forget -- for him to go in, he played physical and gave us another communicator, another guy that can see the defense. He helped Joe, he helped Jameis (Winston). We were really pleased with how he played at guard."