TAMPA — If Bucs rookie coach Greg Schiano accomplished nothing else Tuesday, he captured and held the attention of his players with a whiplash-inducing pace to their first on-field action with the new coaching staff.
From the start, even during stretching, little resembled the Raheem Morris era.
Kicking off a three-day voluntary minicamp at One Buc Place, Schiano — hired for his first NFL job from Rutgers in January — quickly set a tone for what life will be like with him at the helm.
The goal, Schiano said, was "kind of teaching the way we do things. That covers a lot of different areas — effort, precision, schematics, all those things. If you have to come out of (this week) with one thing, you want them to understand the tempo with which we practice and the attention to detail that's required to play this game."
Asked about that tempo, which included full-speed sprints in just about every drill and practically no wasted motion, Schiano said, "That's the only way I've ever done it everywhere I've been. It's the only way I know."
Schiano warned his players the past two weeks of what was coming. So when veterans such as 37-year-old Ronde Barber were asked to do youth-league-like drills — getting on all fours, leaping to their feet, then sprinting at full bore — they likely weren't surprised.
"I felt they did a great job," Schiano said. "We've talked a lot as a group. I've said 'Change is hard. It's not bad or good. It's just hard.' You're used to one thing, but they'll get used to this."
During the portion of practice open to the media, Schiano reinforced his beliefs as he barked out his principles.
"It is a game of details, and it starts here!" he bellowed at one point.
That's a constant theme from Schiano.
"It's not just this team. I believe football is a game of details," he said. "It's toughness, it's want-to, it's all those things. But at the end of the day, everybody is trained so precisely to play this game, so when you're training a guy to block the near number as opposed to the far number, that's a real fine detail. So how do you practice following details? It's in everything you do. That's what we believe."
Beyond the effort to boldly grab his players' attention, Schiano wants to use this camp to solidify concepts coaches have been discussing with players since the start of the offseason program two weeks ago.
The Bucs also must install a new offense and defense, and that couldn't begin in earnest until players could take the field with coaches. Tuesday was the first day that was permitted. Because the Bucs made a coaching change, they are permitted to stage an extra minicamp.
"That's the fun part of it," Schiano said. "We're not going to overload them with stuff, but we're not just going to go out and repeat what we did (Tuesday). We're going to give them more (today) and more on Thursday, just so they get a taste of doing it."
For Schiano, this week has been a long time in the making. It's the first time he has had the chance to put a whistle on and coach his new players on the field. It was, for him, the next stage in this new venture he has undertaken.
"When you're at someplace for 11 years (Rutgers), everything kind of falls into place," he said. "But we're working through it, and that's fun. I'm writing like a maniac, taking notes out there, because we've got to get it right. This is kind of training for all of us for training camp, when we've got to hit it and get it.
"We'll build through this minicamp, (organized team activities) and the mandatory minicamp, and hopefully be ready to go to training camp with a group of people who truly understand each other and what we're setting out to do."
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. View his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs.