Smith pleased with perfect attendance for minicamp
TAMPA -- This week's three-day minicamp is officially a voluntary workout, but new Bucs coach Lovie Smith wasn't surprised to have all 75 players in attendance Tuesday afternoon for the first practice under his new coaching staff.
"Everyone has been here all offseason really, and that's what you expect," Smith said after a non-contact practice went 2 hours and 20 minutes at One Buc Place. "It's voluntary work, but if you want to get better, why would you pass up an opportunity? I appreciate that from the team. All you can do in April is just show up and try to get better."
There were new wrinkles on a sunny afternoon -- quarterbacks wearing orange jerseys with the offense in white and defense in red, with spirits high as the optimism of offseason changes pushed back the frustration of last year's 4-12 record. This week's three practices give the current players a chance to show the new coaches where the team needs -- or doesn't need -- to upgrade positions in the draft, fast approaching May 8.
"They're anxious to prove where they belong on the depth chart," Smith said. "We're anxious to see where everyone belongs on the depth chart. We have a lot of work to do, a long ways to go, but we'll get there."
Only seven players were limited to watching practice, and most are recovering from injuries suffered last season, like RB Mike James (ankle) and G Carl Nicks (toe). Other players returning from injury were fully cleared, like RB Doug Martin, LB Jonathan Casillas and TE Luke Stocker. Safeties Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson were spectators as well, and while Smith didn't mention injuries for either, he said he expects that "eventually those guys will get back into the fold."
THIS AND THAT: Smith is already pleased by the talent and depth at running back, with Martin, James and Bobby Rainey all potentially healthy after each topping 150 yards in games last season. "I went in the room the other day and asked if there was a requirement of being under 5-10 to be in the room," he joked. "I like everything about all of them." ... With Goldson and Barron watching, the starting secondary had Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks at cornerback and Major Wright and Keith Tandy at safety. ...