TAMPA — This week's three-day minicamp is officially voluntary, but new Bucs coach Lovie Smith wasn't surprised to have all 75 players attend Tuesday afternoon's first practice under his new coaching staff.
"Everyone has been here all offseason really, and that's what you expect," Smith said after a non-contact practice went 2 hours and 20 minutes at One Buc Place. "It's voluntary work, but if you want to get better, why would you pass up an opportunity? I appreciate that from the team. All you can do in April is just show up and try to get better."
There were new wrinkles — quarterbacks wearing orange jerseys, the offense in white and defense in red — with spirits high as the optimism of offseason changes dent the frustration of last year's 4-12 record. This week gives players a chance to show the new coaches where the team needs — or doesn't need — to upgrade in the draft, which starts May 8.
"They're anxious to prove where they belong on the depth chart," Smith said. "We're anxious to see where everyone belongs on the depth chart."
Seven players were limited to watching, with most such as RB Mike James (ankle) and G Carl Nicks (toe), recovering from injuries. Others returning from injury like RB Doug Martin, LB Jonathan Casillas and TE Luke Stocker were fully cleared. Safeties Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson sat out recovering from minor undisclosed injuries.
Full focus: RB Jeff Demps focused on track last offseason but said he ran in only one meet this spring, keeping his focus on football. He's listed at 191 pounds this spring, after being at 175 on last year's roster, and said he worked some at slot receiver in the offseason, though he was at running back Tuesday.
Warm welcome: New C Evan Dietrich-Smith is enjoying Tampa's weather and not confusing it with what he left in Green Bay. "This is lovely. I'm walking around in shorts and a shirt," he said. "Right now, I'm usually in a jacket and jeans, sweatpants, freezing my butt off. I'm enjoying that part."
This and that: Smith is pleased by the talent and depth at running back, with Martin, James and Bobby Rainey all potentially healthy after each topping 150 yards in games last season. "I went in the room the other day and asked if there was a requirement of being under 5-10 to be in the room," he joked. "I like everything about all of them." … With Goldson and Barron watching, the starting secondary had Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks at cornerback and Major Wright and Keith Tandy at safety. … Three defensive backs are working as nickels: last year's primary nickel, Leonard Johnson; D.J. Moore, who held that job for Smith in Chicago, and Deveron Carr.
Around the league
Jag retires after stroke: Former Jaguars linebacker Russell Allen will retire after suffering a stroke as well as a concussion in a game last December. Allen told si.com that he has a dead spot — no bigger than a dime — on his cerebellum, which controls motor movement and coordination. "I told my story so athletes understand you can't ignore head injuries," a post on Allen's Twitter page read.
Playoffs on cable: A playoff game will air on cable for the first time this season. The league said ESPN will air a wild-card matchup in January. In the league's new TV deals that start in the fall, NBC exchanged one wild-card matchup for one in the division round.
Snyder says name no issue: Redskins owner Dan Snyder said it's time for people to "focus on reality" concerning Native American matters instead of criticizing the team's nickname. "We understand the issues out there, and we're not an issue," Snyder said. Challenged by those who consider the name "Redskins" offensive, Snyder and his staff recently traveled to Native American reservations and last month established a foundation to assist American Indian tribes.
Marrone has cancer removed: Bills coach Doug Marrone said he had a cancerous mole removed, and that it won't affect him doing his job. In a team statement, Marrone said the cancerous mole was discovered during a recent visit to the doctor. He said the only follow-up requirement is to have his moles checked every three months.
Ravens: Middle linebacker Rolando McClain went on the reserve-retired list for a second time after retiring for good.
Steelers: They picked up their option on defensive lineman Cameron Hayward.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.