Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers have intense minicamp

While observing the frenetic pace and grueling nature of the Bucs' voluntary minicamp last week, it was difficult not to wonder what some of the veterans were thinking.

Were they appalled? Angry? Regretful they didn't stay home?

Turns out we did not hear any such reactions. Though many said they were blindsided by the way new coach Greg Schiano conducted the camp, no player quibbled with whether it was necessary.

"He's re-establishing order," DT Gerald McCoy said. "And he's doing it immediately, on Day 1.

"Nobody's exempt. That means it's going to be a whole organizational turnaround. The whole building is under new rules, and we all have to follow them if we're going to get back where we want to be."

So, for example, if your toes aren't on the yard line during a pre-practice calisthenics drill as instructed, you will hear about it — loudly.

When the staff referred to last week's three-day event as a camp, it meant it. There was no clocking out at 4 in the afternoon. Players were at One Buc Place at roughly 7 a.m. with some not leaving until past 9 p.m. after jam-packed days of meetings, walkthroughs and practices.

"It was definitely shocking," new DT Amobi Okoye said, only half-joking.

Shocking but not inappropriate.

"A team that has as many young guys as we have definitely needs that because it's hard to police yourself," said CB Ronde Barber, entering his 16th season. "And there aren't enough veteran guys around here to do it. So this is what we need."

Besides the discipline Schiano hopes was instilled, there could be other payoffs, G Carl Nicks said.

"Have you ever seen anything like this?" Nicks said. "We joked about it in the locker room and said it's kind of like a college atmosphere. But at the same time, if we keep at it at this pace, we'll be the best-conditioned team in the league. It's kind of grueling right now, but it's for a bigger purpose."

McCoy's role: The Bucs will run a different defensive system under Schiano, but it appears at least one component will remain constant: a premier interior pass rusher.

That's the logical conclusion after listening to McCoy describe his role in the scheme.

McCoy said his job will be to "get upfield and mess something up. They want me to do a little more holding up my (blocker). I'll do what I do within the scheme of the defense. That's not hard for me. Really, they haven't asked me to do something I haven't done. For me, it's pretty much the same. Everybody else had to learn something different."

As for additional elements of the defense, which players are in the early stages of learning, McCoy said it will not be timid.

"Every gap is filled," he said. "And it's not just filled. It's like every gap is destroyed in some way.

"People running the ball on us, it's not going to happen. That's just (Schiano's) mind-set and mentality."

Big advantage: Roughly half of the Bucs' 21 assistant coaches came directly from a college job, and that has become a resource ahead of this week's draft.

The Bucs are tapping their knowledge of this class of prospects, many of whom staff members tried to recruit out of high school.

"I think we've had a lot of advantage in terms of getting to know these young men before they even went to college," Bucs GM Mark Dominik said. "(Assistant coaches) sat in their living rooms. "They know these young men inside and out in terms of who they are off the football field, which has been an important element for us. It's been a benefit. I hope to be able to use that for the next four or five years, as (the assistants) are still going to know the (current) incoming class at their (former) university."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @BucsBeat.

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