Bucs’ Ali Marpet ready for transition to left guard

Former college tackle moved to right guard, then center, now ready to step in at another new position.
Bucs lineman Ali Marpet, shown in preseason last year, is making the shift to left guard this fall.
(TIMES FILES -- 2017)
Bucs lineman Ali Marpet, shown in preseason last year, is making the shift to left guard this fall. (TIMES FILES -- 2017)
Published April 16, 2018|Updated April 16, 2018

Ali Marpet is on the move again, but says not to worry about his transition to left guard — his fourth offensive line position in five years — for the 2018 season.

"Moving from right to left is less of a transition from guard to center," Marpet said on Monday as Bucs players returned to start nine weeks of offseason workouts. "It's just getting reps at it, and it's going to take time. I'll get all those reps during training camp.  You work on it now in the offseason … I think I can do that."

Marpet, still only 24, has shown his versatility all over the offensive line. He played tackle in college at Hobart, stepped in and started 29 games at right guard in his first two NFL seasons, then stepped in at center last year.

The Bucs signed Baltimore's Ryan Jensen in free agency, making him the league's highest-paid center, and Marpet now has a new role at left guard, one he says he'll embrace as he has every other.

"It's really exciting," Marpet said. "I played two years on the right side, so I feel pretty comfortable playing guard. Switching over to the left side's going to be new. It's going to be a lot easier when you're playing next to good players."

That's not intended as a knock on last year's guards, so much as a compliment to left tackle Donovan Smith, who was drafted with Marpet in 2015, and Jensen, who is seen as an upgrade to the interior line as well.

Marpet will be an unrestricted free agent next spring, and while the Bucs say getting him an extension is a priority, he can help his value by showing he can start at three different positions on an NFL offensive line. There's adversity in another new role, but he's ready to do that again.

"Playing in the NFL is hard," he said. "It's a new position, always a new challenge, but I look forward to it actually. If it helps our team, I'm all for it, and I think it helps our team."