TAMPA — As the Bucs prepare to go to Jacksonville this weekend for two joint practices and a preseason game Saturday, it's a nostalgic week for Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter to remember the team that gave him his first NFL job.
"Jacksonville, I got my start in the NFL, so big thanks to Jack Del Rio," said Koetter, who was an offensive coordinator on coach Del Rio's staff from 2007-11. "I'll always be indebted to him for that. We had a great first year there, made it to the second round of the playoffs, lost to the Patriots, and then we didn't go too many places from there. But heck, I'd like to have that same first year here that we had there."
This year's Bucs have much in common with the 2007 Jaguars. Current defensive coordinator Mike Smith had the same role then, as did current Bucs linebackers coach Mark Duffner and receivers coach Todd Monken. Veteran LB Daryl Smith was on that Jacksonville team, and current assistant defensive line coach Paul Spicer had four forced fumbles that season as a starting defensive end.
"(Spicer) was a team captain for us in Jacksonville," Koetter said. "I've always been a fan of his. I used to love the way he talked to the defensive players and loved his leadership and his playing style. The coaches we have on this staff that were from Jacksonville, they're here because they are really good football coaches. They're good teachers and they're good men."
As for the Jaguars, who went 11-5 in 2007, they haven't finished above 8-8 in any year since, and that playoff win in 2007 is the only one the franchise has had since 1999.
The teams will hold joint practices in Jacksonville on Wednesday and Thursday. Both are open to the public .
STEP FORWARD: Jameis Winston had a costly fumble in Thursday's preseason opener at Philadelphia, but his passing statistics — 7-of-9 for 97 yards and a touchdown — gave him a QB rating of 148.6. Before Sunday night's game, only one QB in the NFL had as many passes and a better rating: Cowboys rookie Dak Prescott. Compare that to a year ago, when Winston didn't have a touchdown pass in the entire preseason and finished ranked 106th among quarterbacks with a rating of 52.7.
THIS AND THAT: WR Russell Shepard was one of just two receivers in the NFL entering Sunday night's games that had 60 yards and a touchdown, along with Seattle's Tanner McEvoy. … The team completed passes to 18 players Thursday. That's the most of any team, edging the Saints, who had 17. … The open practice this morning is the second-to-last open practice to the public in Tampa. The joint practice against the Browns on Aug. 24 is also open.
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