BOCA RATON — When coach Jack Del Rio and the Raiders come to Tampa this fall to play the Bucs, it'll be very much a reunion of his 2007 Jaguars team, which won 11 games and reached the second round of the playoffs.
"Dirk's getting the band back together," Del Rio said of all the familiar faces on first-year Bucs coach Dirk Koetter's staff. "We had a good staff. Guys who were there, I think, over time kind of recognized we had a very strong staff and some of those guys who worked with Dirk were timed up where he was able to get some of those guys. I'm happy for him to get this opportunity, and he's got a great group of guys."
In 2007 Mike Smith, in the last year before becoming the Falcons' head coach, was the Jags' defensive coordinator, the same role he now has for the Bucs. Mark Duffner and Todd Monken, the linebackers and receivers coaches on that staff, have the same jobs for Koetter. Even Bucs special teams coordinator Nate Kaczor spent four years as the Jaguars' assistant special teams coach from 2008-11.
FABULOUS: New Bucs SLB Daryl Smith spent the past three years in Baltimore, totaling more than 120 tackles each season, and Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Tampa Bay is getting a leader who will set the tone for younger players.
"Daryl Smith, gosh, you guys got a great one," Harbaugh said at the NFL's annual meetings. "He's going to come to work every day, he's going to show your young players the way, how to work, how to play. He knows the game inside and out. He's going to be physical, he's going to be in the right gap, he's going to know the coverage, know the game plan and work with your young guys on and off the field. Just a fabulous, tremendous human being."
Smith, 34, was cut by the Ravens three weeks ago, allowing him to come to Tampa Bay and reunite with familiar faces. He worked with Koetter, Mike Smith and Duffner during his time with the Jaguars, and Harbaugh said he isn't done making plays in the NFL.
QUICK LEARNER: Former Bucs executive Jon Robinson has only been the Titans' new general manager two months and still has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, but he has made a quick impression on Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey as a tough negotiator with free agents.
"I've been in there and watched him work first hand — there's no nonsense," Mularkey said of the former Patriots scout, who was Tampa Bay's director of player personnel the past two years. "He knows what he wants, he knows the right price that we're not going to put our franchise in a position to be hurt in later years. He's very well-prepared. I told him after one of the signings, 'I wish you could play offensive line like you negotiate.' That's how good I thought he was. He's very good at what he does."
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