Sunday, June 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This time, Bucs have fewer distractions than Dolphins

TAMPA — The Bucs are happy to let the Dolphins have their day in the slime light.

Coach Greg Schiano's Bucs spent the first half of the season coping with: an outbreak of MRSA, accusations that the captain's vote was rigged, an unauthorized interview, a breach of confidentiality in the league's substance-abuse program, and the demotion and release of quarterback Josh Freeman.

Not to mention being 0-8.

But heading into Monday night's game against the Bucs, the Dolphins are dealing with more distractions.

Miami left tackle Jonathan Martin left the team last week because of emotional issues stemming from reported harassment by teammate Richie Incognito.

Incognito was suspended Sunday by the Dolphins for what they called conduct detrimental to the team. Multiple media reports say the guard made racial slurs and physical threats in a voice mail message sent in April and pressured Martin into paying $15,000 for a trip by the offensive linemen to Las Vegas that Martin didn't take.

"That's going to be to their disadvantage," Bucs linebacker Dakoda Watson said. "If that's what they have to worry about, that's what they have to worry about."

Schiano admits the Bucs myriad distractions likely affected their preparation.

"I talk about having 1,440 minutes every day," he said. "If you're spending it on stuff other than game planning, evaluating …there's a limited time. You do have to sleep a little bit. That's where it becomes a tangible factor. Other than that, you can't let it be a distraction other than when it takes time away from what you normally do. That's when it becomes an issue."

Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake said Wednesday that the Martin-Incognito matter has not been a point of discussion in their locker room:

"Football is full of distractions whether it's tweaking your ankle, the heat, the snow, the mud, the guy across from you, the crowd. To play this game, you have to be able to put that stuff out of your mind and concentrate on whatever your job is at that given moment and execute that at a high level. The guys we have are professionals, and all that stuff that is going on on the outside is kind of the same way as the crowd noise on third down."

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said he couldn't comment on the suspension of Incognito because of the NFL's investigation but said he encourages his players to conduct themselves as professionals.

"I tell our guys all the time, the National Football League, to me, it's like working for General Electric or Goldman Sachs or Dell computer," Philbin said. "You're at the top of the food chain, so to speak, so your actions should reflect that."

Schiano said the Bucs restrict hazing to initiation rituals such as carrying pads and buying food.

"We talk about trust, belief and accountability," Schiano said. "That kind of covers everything. What I talk to them about … our guys, there's some ritual things they do. And my thing is always you don't cross the line. That's a man, and you're a man. Make sure you don't cross the line."

Bucs linebacker Lavonte David said he didn't receive much hazing last year as a rookie other than carrying pads and picking up the $4,000 tab for a linebackers dinner.

"These guys took it easy up here; got mutual respect around the building," he said. "It wasn't anything out of the ordinary."

Rookie quarterback Mike Glen­non said his hazing was limited to making runs for burritos and singing before a meeting.

"I sang Build Me Up Buttercup," he said. "It was all just me. Great vocals. People started clapping and joining along, so I think that was a good sign."

The Bucs' problems now seem limited to on the field. But by the time Monday night rolls around, the Dolphins' distractions will be put aside as well.

Said Bucs left tackle Donald Penn: "At the end of the day, on Monday, when everybody lines up, all the distractions go out the window."

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