When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers broke six weeks ago from their three-day mandatory minicamp, head coach Lovie Smith had a request. There wouldn’t be any mandatory conditioning tests when they got back, at least not like the previous ones they performed under former head coach Greg Schiano.
“I asked the players to make a commitment,” Smith explained. He told the players, “‘You know, we can get a lot better during this break, starting off with all of us losing weight and getting down.’ He added, “We want to be a faster team, a leaner team.”
Smith believes that most of the players bought in and obliged while still taking time away to clear their heads and enjoy vacations with their families. But he wanted it to be a time of self-reflection and improvement.
“I talked in the offseason about the ‘Man in the Mirror.’ You know I’m a big Michael Jackson fan. ‘Everybody take care of yourselves, spend all your time with you and improving yourself.'”
Of course it’s now all football, and there are jobs up for grabs, regardless of who did what last year.”As coaches, we’ve said we’re starting from scratch. ‘Show us. Show us that you belong on the field, that you belong as a starter for us.'”
Da’Quan Bowers Up for the Challenge
One player who has a lot of ground to make up to prove he belongs on the field is defensive end Da’Quan Bowers.
In an interview with WDAE this week, general manager Jason Licht singled Bowers out, saying that he “needs to prove that he wants to make an impact with this football team.”
When talking to reporters Thursday, Bowers responded positively to the criticism.
“No question about it. I owe it to this organization, I owe it to this team. I’ve been here long enough and haven’t really been that player that I know I can be. I think it’s about time that I really put forth the extra foot and be that player I know I’m capable of being.”
He also said that despite undergoing knee surgery, it was his “most consistent offseason” since being drafted by the organization four years ago.
“I’m excited, excited for a new staff, excited to actually be able to put pads on somebody. I’m excited for a new year.”
Same Old Feeling for Josh McCown
Quarterback Josh McCown may be entering his 13th season, but he admits he still gets nervous at the start of training camp.
“It’s always the same feeling,” McCown said to reporters. “You get butterflies, nerves and anxiousness, just getting started. But for me, in my 13th year, it’s humbling to still be able to come do this. So I’m very thankful for the opportunity. It’s really cool.”
It’s the first time in 10 years that he’ll be a starter. In 2004, he started 13 games for the Arizona Cardinals, but has since served as a backup for four other teams.
“Again, very humbling, especially at this stage. But I’m excited because you know where you stand going into camp. So it is definitely a little bit of a departure from different years. But I’m excited about it. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun.”
Smith hopes other players adopt McCown’s mentality.
“I don’t know how many years I’ve been doing this, a lot now — [but] we should all have that type of excitement — guys like Josh [that] have been doing it for a while or the rookie that’s coming in.”
McCoy Gets ‘Cozy’ at Camp
He didn’t show up in race car like Reggie Wayne, or a bicycle like they do in Green Bay, but Gerald McCoy had some fun with his training camp arrival. Or, he just didn’t feel like getting dressed.
The Pro Bowl defensive tackle showed up to One Buc Place Thursday in a bathrobe. But he has no intentions of slacking off though.
“This is going to be my home for the next month or so, so I might as well get comfortable.”
Of course it might also have to do with the recent birth of twins for his wife Ebony.
“It’s definitely hard, but I will be getting some sleep now.”