The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have begun their preparations for the Week 1 against New York Jets, starting off with a practice on Labor Day.
The mentality shift from the preseason to regular season began a bit sooner, though. The players did some practicing Friday and Saturday before having Sunday off.
Now the real work begins and the team can start keying in on the Jets.
“There’s definite renewed energy. You go through training camp and it’s just, ‘Bang, bang, time to make the doughnuts’ type mentality – the guys keep doing it, and doing it, and doing it. And then all of a sudden, now you’ve got a game,” said head coach Greg Schiano.
The shift in attitude isn’t exclusive to players. Schiano admitted going from preseason to games gets him amped up too.
“Match-ups and scheme match-ups, you feel like you’re more a part of it. You’re a part of the solution. You are during camp, don’t get me wrong, you’re coaching and you’re teaching, but now you’re really part of it. It’s here. These 16 one-game seasons will determine 2013, so it counts.”
There was some criticism of the Bucs’ performance in the preseason. The team finished 1-3 and didn’t show a whole lot in terms of pressure from the defensive line. Adrian Clayborn said the unit can’t afford to have an ineffective pass rush.
“That’s not really an option. We have to get the pass rush going. The coaches expect it of us, and we expect it of ourselves, so we’re ready to go.”
Doug Martin and Davin Joseph ready to go
The last thing Bucs fans saw from Doug Martin was him taking a knee to the helmet during the second preseason game against the Patriots.
Martin left that game with a head injury and did not play in the third preseason game against the Dolphins or against the Redskins Thursday.
“He’s completely healthy and we have big expectations for Doug, as he does for himself. I can’t wait to get him fired up and get him going up in New York.”
The Bucs will also have Pro Bowl right guard Davin Joseph back in the picture, which should help the ground game significantly, even if Carl Nicks is unable to play.
“I feel very strong about Davin,” said Schiano. “I think Davin’s going to come out and play Davin-like. I feel uncertain about Nicks because that’s what it is, it’s uncertain. And the rest of the guys, I have confidence that they’re going to play well.”
Banks prepared to be tested
The Bucs have not officially announced any starters, but based on where players lined up during the first 30 minutes of practice that were open to the media, it looks like rookie Johnthan Banks will get the nod to start opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis.
If not him, it will be Leonard Johnson. Either way, he is prepared to be targeted a lot.
“I’m a rookie, and I’ve got Revis on the other side, so me or L.J. [cornerback Leonard Johnson] will have our work cut out for us, whoever the other corner beside Revis is, but we are all prepared. We get paid to do this, we’ve just got to go out there and hold up.”
He said he’s just as excited as everyone else for Revis’ return and doesn’t think a return to New York to face his former team will faze his Pro Bowl teammate.
“The spotlight is always on him. Just go out and play my role. [Revis] is a pro, he knows how to handle that stuff, I haven’t seen anything faze him yet. I’m pretty excited just to watch him go out and compete and do what he [does].”
Schiano mum on Tynes and MRSA
When asked about the situation involving the Buccaneers and kicker Lawrence Tynes, Schiano chose to defer all comments.
“I’m not going to be able to publicly comment on that…I’m not being evasive. That’s just what I have to do. I hope you can understand.”
Tynes was placed on the non-football injury list instead of injured reserve for an MRSA infection, which he believes he contracted at the team’s facilities. He vows to fight the move along with the NFLPA.