TAMPA — In the fall, he will produce tackles, interceptions, fumbles and highlight hits.
But for now, safety Dashon Goldson is making the Buccaneers better while nobody watches.
After the most sweltering practice of the offseason last week, when teammates evaporated into climate-controlled One Buc Place, Goldson took off his jersey, set his helmet on the ground and began scouring the field for a football.
"Don't we have one football on this field?" he asked incredulously until one was located.
Then before they could escape through the doors, Goldson locked eyes with cornerbacks Leonard Johnson and Danny Gorrer and let them know their day wasn't done.
"We need to catch some footballs," he said.
For the next 10 minutes, Goldson did the throwing and they did the catching until he was satisfied.
"Dashon has been a lot of fun to work with because he has a great football mind," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "He learns very well. And he cares a lot. He keeps those young two corners out there, and he's just throwing. No one asked him to do that. That's on him. And that's what veterans need to do.
"I'm glad he's ours."
Most of the attention on the team's rebuilt secondary has focused on former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and his recovery from a torn left ACL. If Revis is Revis, as the saying goes, he is, arguably, one of the top five defensive players in the league.
But the first piece added to improve last season's league-worst pass defense was Goldson, a 2012 first-team All-Pro who signed a five-year, $41.25 million contract in March.
Goldson, who turns 29 on Sept. 18, helped transform a 49ers franchise that suffered losing seasons from 2003-10 into one with appearances in the NFC title game the past two seasons and a Super Bowl berth last season, his seventh in the league.
San Francisco's fourth-round pick out of Washington in 2007 emerged as a player equally effective playing the run as the pass. His 14 career interceptions have come over the past four seasons.
Tampa Bay has eight players on its roster who have appeared in the Pro Bowl, including Goldson, Revis and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
"I've played on some teams that had some talent, and we didn't do so well," Goldson said. "It's really your mind-set. What do you really want out of this deal? Then getting it done.
"There are a lot of good football teams in this league. So what is going to separate you from these guys? Being in shape, of course. It's not about who runs the fastest, but rather who runs the fastest the longest. That's my mind-set, and I think we'll get it done."
Johnson, 23, a former Largo High quarterback who signed as an undrafted free agent last season, was pressed into service after the suspensions of cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Eric Wright. Johnson responded with three interceptions, a forced fumble and 41 tackles.
Gorrer, 27, who was with his fourth team in as many seasons, played in six games for the Bucs, recording one interception and six tackles.
It's uncertain where they will land on the depth chart this season. The team hopes to start Revis, second-year safety Mark Barron, Goldson and either Eric Wright or Johnthan Banks, the second-round pick in April's draft out of Mississippi State.
But Goldson does not care about that. His job, as he sees it, is to help develop young players and lead.
Whether anyone is watching or not.
"It's just something that has been in me since I was young," he said. "I was always a motivating guy. I always looked at myself as a guy who tried to lead out there. I know this is a young crowd we have out here.
"I'm just trying to … help out and share my experiences I've had. I want them to know it's okay to go out here and ask questions and especially for me to just try and shed a little light on them. I've played in the postseason now and have been a part of some good teams and some bad teams. I've got experience in a lot of areas."