TAMPA — Say this for Bucs players, they don't lack confidence.
Despite a 1-3 preseason in which Tampa Bay was outscored 115-66, outgained 1,337-897 and outsacked 13-5, the switch from a training camp mentality to preparation for Sunday's season opener at the Jets has some thinking big.
"Once the whole team gets there, it's going to be something special," DE Da'Quan Bowers said. "Everybody is a little upset they haven't seen it yet. But I've seen it and it looks really good."
"My prediction," WR Mike Williams added, "is we're going to be better than what you guys have been seeing."
No bold predictions from coach Greg Schiano on Monday, but he did note the change in tone around One Buc Place.
"There's definitely renewed energy," he said. "You go through training camp and bang, bang, bang, time to make the donuts kind of mentality. You've got to keep doing it and doing it. All of a sudden, now we got a game. You're game-planning and that's fun as a coach."
That said, with G Carl Nicks (MRSA infection) questionable, the offensive line is unsettled. And among other things, QB Josh Freeman already is under a microscope, no one knows how CB Darrelle Revis' surgically repaired knee will react in a game situation and the defensive line has to find a way to create quarterback pressure.
Asked if it was upsetting people are questioning the defensive line, DE Adrian Clayborn said, "Not really. We haven't rushed that good in the past year, so they have a reason to, I guess. We just have to prove them wrong."
That was kind of the vibe throughout the locker room.
"I would tell them just to be confident," Bowers said of the fans. "Let the coaches coach, let the players play. We do this for a living and we have a little insight about it. It's going to be a long season. Those (preseason) games don't mean anything.
"Once it's time to go and time to count, we can promise with everything that we have that the Buccaneers will be going. We'll be going hard with everything we have."
KEEPING MUM: Asked how he believes the organization has handled Lawrence Tynes, who is on the reserve/non-football injury list with a MRSA infection, Schiano, certainly cognizant of any legal action the kicker might bring, politely declined the discussion. "I'm not going to be able to publicly comment on that," he said.
ADDITIONS: Schiano also would not get into specifics about the waiver acquisitions of DT Chris Jones and WR Russell Shepard. He did not rule out more moves, calling the roster "a fluid situation."
"Some of that is to win this Sunday, and some of that is to win, programmatically down the road," Schiano said of any additions.
SECOND OPTION: It appears Brian Leonard will be the backup RB. But the seventh-year pro who spent the past four seasons with the Bengals knows carries might be few and far between playing behind do-everything back Doug Martin.
"Whenever he gets tired, hopefully I can be the guy that goes in and, hopefully, there's not a let-off," Leonard said. "I think I can do it all, too, maybe not the level of Doug, but I have all the tangibles, catching the ball, running the ball and picking up protections, stuff like that."
Leonard said he knows most of his playing time will be on special teams.
"I just kind of embraced it," he said. "It's good. Hopefully, it'll keep me in the league for a while."
MINOR MOVE: Former Ravens CB Marc Anthony, Baltimore's seventh-round draft pick this year, was signed to the practice squad.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]