It took all of one practice to illustrate the changes that have taken place for the Bucs, particularly in the secondary. Coach Greg Schiano has a favorite saying he repeats in practice: leaders lead. And so it was after that initial organized team activity, former 49ers S Dashon Goldson brought the entire team up with everyone putting a hand in the pile. Schiano noticed, and he loved it.
The biggest acquisition of the offseason was Jets CB Darrelle Revis, still recovering from surgery to repair his torn ACL. The Bucs used their second pick on Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks, and they also restructured the contract of CB Eric Wright.
The popular belief is Revis and Wright will start, with Goldson and second-year pro Mark Barron at safety. When opponents use three receivers, Wright might move inside to cover the slot receiver with Banks entering as the nickel corner (fifth defensive back).
Sounds good, but I don't think the Bucs are done tinkering.
Two second-year players, CB Leonard Johnson and S Keith Tandy, saw some action last week in the dime package. And when the team went to that defense, Barron was frequently in the slot, close to the line of scrimmage. Tandy will push former Gator Ahmad Black for playing time as the third safety.
Wright, 27, has a base salary of only $1.5 million for 2013, the last year on his contract. Schiano didn't exactly offer a ringing endorsement of Wright.
"He's doing some good things. And again, it's all about the competition and we won't know until we get going," Schiano said. "Because there are some guys who finished the year that think it's their position. And Eric thinks it's his position. So we'll see. I'm not sure exactly how everything will turn out, nor do I care. I know I like the guys that are right now competing. That's the most important thing, and we'll let it all play out."
Wright is a playmaker and maybe he'll hold off the younger (cheaper), eager competition.
But the Bucs drafted Banks to play right away, and they like Barron close to the line in multiple receiver sets. They also like their young safeties. It's an area where more changes could take place.
Boys will be boys: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is attracted to the camera like a moth to a flame, but he might want to find a better backdrop for his TV hits than the team's draft board. A website called Blog the Boys captured Dallas' draft board by piecing together a series of screen shots from Jones' interviews.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and sometimes there is no consensus among teams about a player. But consider where the Cowboys scouts and front office had ranked some of the Bucs' choices.
Banks earned a sixth-round grade from the Cowboys. He was taken 43rd overall by the Bucs.
Illinois DT Akeem Spence, taken in the fourth round by Tampa Bay, got a fifth-round grade from Dallas. Finally, QB Mike Glennon, the Bucs' third-round choice from North Carolina State taken 73rd overall and the third passer taken, rated a sixth-round grade by the Cowboys.
Then again, Florida State QB E.J. Manuel, who went 16th overall to Buffalo and was the only quarterback selected in the first round, earned a fourth-round grade from the Cowboys.
Keep an eye on: DE Aaron Morgan, who joined the practice squad in October after being released by the Jaguars and was promoted to the active roster in Week 9. He played seven games and made two tackles, one on special teams, before a shoulder injury landed him on injured reserve.
"Aaron is a really effective pass rusher," Schiano said. "He hasn't had a ton of opportunities in games because we got him and we're trying to work him into things. But now that he's been with us for a while, he understands our concepts and what we want to do. But he's got good burst and explosion. Each time he got close to playing something happened, he got injured. If he can stay healthy, I think he can have a positive impact on our pass rush."