Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs defensive backs coach Oden has key job

TAMPA — Tony Oden is not what you might consider a household name. In fact, odds are you've never heard of him.

But if the Bucs are going to play winning football in the fall, he'll be a key part of that success.

See, it is Oden's job to pick up the pieces from what was the worst secondary in the NFL in 2012. The Bucs' new defensive backs coach has been afforded some significant luxuries in CB Darrelle Revis and S Dashon Goldson, both All-Pros.

But there's still a sizable workload for Oden, who not only must integrate those new players but develop a long list of young players.

While it's no surprise that former defensive backs coach Ron Cooper struggled to produce results last season with cornerbacks Eric Wright and Aqib Talib often unavailable and with inexperienced replacements, the team had significant concerns about the job he did. He was, umm, encouraged to find work elsewhere and landed at USF as assistant head coach/defensive backs coach.

Enter Oden. The Cleveland native was defensive backs coach with the Saints (2011) and Jaguars (2012), but both experiences were quite different from this one. Between the subpar play in 2012 (the Bucs were just shy of setting an NFL record for passing yards allowed) and the dramatic personnel changes (Ronde Barber retired, for instance), it's a pivotal time for the secondary.

One of Oden's challenges is working with Revis during the offseason. Revis was unable to participate in practices because of his rehab from a torn left ACL. But Oden and Revis still needed to spend considerable time formulating a plan for how Revis will be used.

"(Revis) wants to know exactly how you want it done within the scheme of the defense," Oden, 39, said. "We say, 'Here's where everyone else is going to fit in the defense, and here are, potentially, some of the things that you can do.' He is more than willing to do things the way we do them. But here's the thing: He has a unique skill set, and we're going to lean on that at some point."

On the other end of the spectrum, Oden finds himself introducing rookie CB Johnthan Banks to the NFL.

"He's going to be up against a lot," Oden said of the second-round pick out of Mississippi State. "One of the things he's learning is that everybody is good here. Everyone is fast. He has to play with a good sense of urgency down in and down out. Things are going to go wrong from time to time. The most important play in football is the next one. Those are the things he's learning. He's doing a good job."

The defensive backfield is going to be an interesting place come training camp. The Bucs, after signing Michael Adams last week, have 11 cornerbacks on their 90-man offseason roster.

Each will look to Oden for guidance. If he comes through, Oden — whether you know his name or not — can be an important factor this season.

LIGHTEN UP: Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy, speaking to his hometown paper, the Oklahoman, said he has lost 20 pounds in the offseason through "diet and working" out. McCoy has previously been listed at 300 pounds.

LOOKING AHEAD: With players on their own until training camp, discipline becomes critical with coach Greg Schiano's brutal conditioning test looming after they report. Last year's test consisted of 16 110-yard sprints with 45 seconds of rest in between. WR Dezmon Briscoe and DT Brian Price were among the players who failed the test. Ultimately, Briscoe was released and Price traded to the Bears (though other factors contributed).

IT'S A DATE: As expected, the Bucs have solidified plans for preseason practices against the Patriots for the second straight year. This time, the Bucs will practice at Foxborough, Mass., on Aug. 13-14 before their game Aug. 16, which airs nationally on Fox.

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Five options if the Bucs want to trade down from No. 7

Five options if the Bucs want to trade down from No. 7

For months, NFL fans have wondered what the Bucs might do with the No. 7 pick in Thursday's draft, producing a wide range of answers, each with passionate support from some of their fans.But as draft nears, and as the interest level in a talented gro...
Published: 04/24/18
Could Washington DT Vita Vea be the Bucs’ real target at No. 7 in the draft?

Could Washington DT Vita Vea be the Bucs’ real target at No. 7 in the draft?

Vita VeaPosition: Defensive tackleSchool: WashingtonHeight/weight: 6-4, 347Draft projection: Round 1Why Vita Vea makes sense for the Bucs: Vea's combination of size and quick feet is rare. He ran a 5.1 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225 pounds 40 tim...
Published: 04/24/18
Important questions and answers about Bucs’ draft parrot

Important questions and answers about Bucs’ draft parrot

The final days leading up to the NFL draft can be a busy time, but rarely do you call someone you trust from a team and say: "What can you tell me about the parrot?"Yes, the Bucs will have a parrot — specifically a Catalina macaw named Zsa Zsa ...
Published: 04/24/18
Ex-Bucs QB Jeff Garcia doesn’t care about NFL draft: ‘I have a life’

Ex-Bucs QB Jeff Garcia doesn’t care about NFL draft: ‘I have a life’

So much of the attention Monday surrounding the Bucs' announcing who'd be announcing their late-round draft picks was, of course, that a parrot would be delivering the name of the fourth-round pick to the pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium.But late...
Published: 04/24/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Breaking down the NFL draft with Sam Farmer

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Breaking down the NFL draft with Sam Farmer

On today's Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast, Rick Stroud breaks down the NFL draft with the Los Angeles Times' Sam Farmer.Farmer coordinates a mock draft with beat writers around the league, and it's usually one of the most accurate prognostications...
Published: 04/24/18
NFL Draft: Date, time, TV schedule and draft order for the April 26-28 draft

NFL Draft: Date, time, TV schedule and draft order for the April 26-28 draft

The NFL Draft starts Thursday from Arlington, Texas, with coverage of the first round beginning at 8 p.m. ET. Here's a look at the broadcast schedule for all three days and the draft order for every round:Schedule(all times Eastern)Thursday, April 26...
Published: 04/24/18
Polly want a sacker: Bucs’ 4th-round draft pick to be delivered by parrot

Polly want a sacker: Bucs’ 4th-round draft pick to be delivered by parrot

Late-round NFL draft picks are often made on a wing and a prayer.The Bucs' fourth-round pick Saturday will be no different. The team announced Monday that as part of the NFL draft TV broadcast, the team's fourth-round pick will be delivered to an ann...
Published: 04/23/18
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz surrounding this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the record six taken in the first round in 1983, a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.Th...
Published: 04/22/18
Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Former NFL kicker Jay Feely, who was born in Odessa and starred at Tampa Jesuit, has apologized for a photo he intended as a joke, showing him holding a gun as he poses with his daughter and her prom date."Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date a...
Published: 04/22/18
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely able to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother, S...
Published: 04/21/18