TAMPA — The Bucs' offensive scheme under new coordinator Jeff Tedford has been shrouded in mystery during the preseason, with players and game plans maintaining that concealment. Now there is secrecy as to whether Tedford will be available to call plays in Sunday's regular-season opener against Carolina.
Tedford, 52, was hospitalized after an undisclosed surgical procedure last week and missed Thursday's preseason finale against the Redskins. Though the Tedford stopped by the training facility over the weekend, the Bucs are preparing as if he won't be at the game Sunday.
"Obviously, Jeff's been leading our offense through the whole offseason, so any time you take a piece away, there can be some disruption," quarterback Josh McCown said. "But the coaches seem like they are, so far, doing a great job picking up the slack and doing what we need to do."
Coach Lovie Smith indicated that Tedford has begun working part time from his home during his recovery and is involved in the game plan against Carolina. Smith would not commit to Tedford being at Sunday's game, but he also didn't rule it out.
"(Tedford is) getting better," Smith said. "He stopped through this weekend. We're taking our time with him. Again, he's getting better each day. When he'll be back here full time, I don't know. … Just know that he's getting better and we'll see how that all plays out. In the meantime, the rest of our offensive staff will pick up for Jeff, similar to how we did it last week with all of the guys really pitching in.
"With technology, you don't have to be here every second to get work done. Jeff is involved in what we're doing right now, having as much input, pretty much as he would have if he was here."
Against the Redskins, quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo, who at 34 is a year younger than McCown, called plays. Playing mostly backups and players who did not make the roster, the Bucs had 18 total yards in the first half.
Arroyo, who was the offensive coordinator and receivers coach at Southern Mississippi last season, spent 2011-12 under Tedford at Cal as quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. Tedford's son, Quinn, is an offensive intern, and assistant offensive line coach Matt Wiegand worked at Cal for two seasons as an offensive assistant and tight ends coach.
"I got a whole lot of confidence," rookie receiver Robert Herron said of Arroyo, who recruited him to Wyoming. "The way he explains the offense, it's like he made it up, he knows it so well."
Though Arroyo might be most familiar with the offense, like Tedford he has never called a play in a regular-season NFL game. And the Bucs on Sunday face the league's No. 2-ranked defense in 2013.
If there's a silver lining, it's that the Bucs have been preparing to face Carolina since the schedule came out in April. "It does help quite a bit," Smith said. "It seems like every year, for me, we played them in my previous job. I respect what they do. … Just starting to watch them and seeing how we're going to attack them, but we've been preparing for them for quite a while."
McCown said he and the offense will be ready no matter who is calling the plays.
"It's a credit to Lovie for having a plan, having a thought process to say, 'Hey, we're going to move forward with the plan we have in place,' " McCown said. "And I've been looking at Carolina. The nice thing about it, our eyes have been on them for an extended period of time, probably more than I'll look at any other team. I think we feel really good about that."
Staff writer Matt Baker contributed to this report. Contact Rick Stroud at firstname.lastname@example.org and listen from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-AM 620. View his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs. Follow @NFLStroud