TAMPA — It's Gerald McCoy's time and — already — Vincent Jackson's team, according to Bucs players who voted them captains for this season.
McCoy, the third-year defensive tackle who has played in only 19 games, is a first-time captain on defense and joins FS Ronde Barber. Jackson, who signed as a free agent in March, is an offensive captain with QB Josh Freeman.
LB Adam Hayward and long-snapper Andrew Economos are the special teams captains.
McCoy said he was surprised when the vote was revealed during a team meeting Thursday.
"I didn't … campaign," McCoy said. "Just being myself. I told (reporters) when I first got to Tampa, I was born to be a leader and that's what I'm going to be. That's what they drafted me to be and what I've worked to be. Apparently, I've done enough for my teammates to want to put me in that position, and that's where they believe I should be. I love these guys. And for them to think that much of me, there's nothing like it."
Jackson's strong work ethic made an immediate impression. He has been an example for many of the young receivers.
"I'm excited because I've been here since the first organized day that we've had," Jackson said. "I've shown up every day and done my job. They see the way I carry myself and how I take care of my business, and that's something we all need to work toward. I appreciate it."
WORKHORSE: RB Doug Martin will start Sunday against the Panthers. How many touches he gets depends on the ebb and flow of the game. But coach Greg Schiano won't spare the legs of the Boise State rookie.
"I think it is a feel thing," Schiano said. "And that's probably not as scientific as maybe you want it to be. But that's the way I look at it.
"I have a long-term vision. I know it's a long season. But you get to play this game this Sunday. It's a one-game season as far as I'm concerned, and we pick up the next one after that. You do everything you can to be 1-0 at the end of this season"
RB LeGarrette Blount will play, but his role, according to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, will be "complementary back." The team also has rookie Michael Smith, who will return kickoffs, and former Giant D.J. Ware.
BENN READY? WR Arrelious Benn missed all of the preseason with a sprained right knee ligament sustained on the first day of training camp. As a result, he might not be active Sunday and was listed as questionable on Friday's injury report.
Schiano won't make a decision on the 46 active players until Sunday.
"You wished he could've played in a game … because of live contact," Schiano said. "But whenever he gets that first live contact, it's going to be his first whether it's this week or next week.
"If they're physically ready but we don't feel they're ready enough to win, we may have to wait a week on some guys."
Benn said he believes he will be prepared for the first live contact if it comes Sunday.
"I think I've gotten bumped around in practice a bit," he said. "Plus, I'm a physical guy, so I don't really shy away from contact. I'm not going in thinking once I get that first hit I'll be all right. I'm going into every game expecting to get hit.
"The great thing about it is I'm already out there and I'm getting back into the groove of things. I had a good week-and-a-half. I'm happy about it. I'm expecting to be ready. Whatever coach wants me to do, I'll do."
FREE PARKING: The team announced that parking on Sunday will be free in Lots 11, 12, 13 and 14 on a first-come, first-served basis.
INJURIES: CB Anthony Gaitor (hamstring) was limited in practice Thursday and Friday and, along with CB E.J. Biggers (foot), is listed as doubtful for the game.