Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Oh, snap! Bucs guard Ali Marpet transitions to center

CLEARWATER — Ask Ali Marpet what he has tried to work on most this offseason, and his response is, promisingly, quick and accurate.

"Snap," says the 24-year-old offensive lineman, making a transition — coach Dirk Koetter called it an experiment — from guard to center in the spring.

Marpet has snapped before and during practices to be an emergency center but never in a game — not with the Bucs, not at Division III Hobart College, not in high school, never. He's making up for it now.

"I've been able to get with Jameis (Winston) a couple of times, and otherwise, I've snapped with anyone who will catch the ball," he said. "I go until I feel good, whether that's 20 snaps or 100, whatever it ends up being."

Marpet was at ease Thursday afternoon, sitting at Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill in a Hawaiian shirt and sporting a new shaggy haircut, received "mostly well" by his teammates this week. He ate the restaurant's new giant Hawaiian rib eye at a charity eating event to donate $4,000 to Metropolitan Ministries and, as with football, embraced the challenge with an appetite.

"I'm a center," he says. "It's always been in the back pocket. I can still play guard. I know. I've played guard. I imagine they're not saying 'You're the starter, no matter what you do.' But they like the idea, so we're going to try it."

The Bucs still have veteran centers Evan Smith and Joe Hawley, who each got $1 million bonuses in the offseason and will compete in training camp. Marpet said he likes the confidence his coaches have in him, as he did when he was drafted.

"It's not the same transition, but how I went from college to the NFL, thrown into the fire," he said.

Marpet had not heard the praise that came his way Monday from Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who said Marpet can be a "dominant, next-level center." McCoy said Marpet is a "small-space guy," strong and dangerous in close quarters, and Marpet agreed.

"The less I can move, the better," he says with a laugh. "If I can just hold on to you, grab you, I think that'll help me."

The Bucs' offensive line returns nearly intact from last season — backup tackle Gosder Cherilus retired — so there's already a chemistry and bond in conditioning workouts a full three months before preseason training camp begins.

"It's a lot of fun. There's a lot of good energy," Marpet said. "It's nice to have everyone back. I think it's huge. There's already that feel in the offensive line room. Everyone's close and has played together. I think that will show."

Marpet's transition to center comes as the team hopes to have guard J.R. Sweezy — a major addition last year who missed the entire season with a back injury — back and healthy and perhaps starting in Marpet's old slot at right guard. Sweezy has been around the group for a year, but his personality can come out more in workouts.

"I think it's going to be awesome," Marpet said of Sweezy's impact. "He was a good player in Seattle, and there's no reason he won't be a good player here. He's a little bit of a jerk, which is good. It's what we want. A little bit of a mean streak. It's going to be fun to play with him."

The Bucs are only conditioning right now — they won't line up in pads as an offensive line together for another month, until organized team activities begin May 23. Marpet likes the idea that he would line up as a center, both then and in September.

"That we're going to start off with me at center, if that's the vision they have, that's really cool," he said.

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

Comments
Bucs players add support to Tampa ex-offender program

Bucs players add support to Tampa ex-offender program

TAMPA — Buccaneers players spent Tuesday morning at Abe Brown Ministries in Belmont Heights listening to stories of redemption.The second stop on the team's player-driven Social Justice Initiative schedule saw players immersed in a classroom se...
Updated: 6 hours ago
What Cleveland Browns fans have to say to Bucs fans

What Cleveland Browns fans have to say to Bucs fans

CLEARWATER — Not all true believers simply head to church on Sundays.One particular parish gathers at Quaker Steak & Lube on 49th Street North. They come to this restaurant for their ritual, for what, to the rest of us, might seem like serial m...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Why the Bucs arenít likely to trade for Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson

Why the Bucs arenít likely to trade for Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson

TAMPA — Ever since it was reported the Cardinals would consider trading cornerback Patrick Peterson, Bucs fans have wondered why can't their team make that deal?Bucs general manager Jason Licht has worked with Arizona general manager Steve Keim...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs new girls flag football program could add to county's high school success

Bucs new girls flag football program could add to county's high school success

Jen Welter, NFL's first female coach, helps introduce program with special clinic
Updated: 9 hours ago
Buccaneers AfterMath: The kicker problem and how to solve it

Buccaneers AfterMath: The kicker problem and how to solve it

On “Separation Sunday” in the NFL, it was gut-check time for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They didn’t pass, dropping their third straight game.In a 34-29 loss to the Falcons in Atlanta, the defense struggled to get off the field on thi...
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/16/18
Mike Smithís firing means the Bucs got tired of wasting a decent offense

Mike Smithís firing means the Bucs got tired of wasting a decent offense

TAMPA— Wow, who saw that coming?Let's be as clear: Former Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith, wished into the cornfield Monday, won't be the last person to carry a box out of the team's headquarters this season.Sunday's 34-29 loss in Atlanta...
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/16/18
Why the Bucs waited to fire Mike Smith

Why the Bucs waited to fire Mike Smith

TAMPA — Exactly two weeks ago, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter stood at the same podium following an embarrassing 48-10 loss at Chicago and asked this rhetorical question: "We fire Mike Smith. Okay, then what would the next move be?''Well, the Buc...
Published: 10/15/18
Bucs fire defensive coordinator Mike Smith

Bucs fire defensive coordinator Mike Smith

The Bucs have fired defensive coordinator Mike Smith.Smith's defense was last in 2017 and are allowing 34.6 points per game this season, the most in the league and are on pace to allow the most points in NFL history.Two weeks ago, the Bucs were embar...
Published: 10/15/18
The Bucs are suddenly 2-3, and you can see doom from here

The Bucs are suddenly 2-3, and you can see doom from here

TAMPA — So this is what the downward looks like. This is how the rest of the Bucs season will look, right on down to Dirk, let us help you with the big boxes.The Bucs are trapped like rats.So are their fans.The rest of the way will often go a l...
Published: 10/15/18
If DeSean Jackson scored on the final play, would it have counted?

If DeSean Jackson scored on the final play, would it have counted?

ATLANTA —It was a scintillating play, one that appeared to nearly work.But the Bucs last-gasp attempt to score from the 21 yard line as time expired in Sunday's 34-29 loss to Atlanta would not have counted even if receiver DeSean Jackson fielde...
Published: 10/15/18