The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will get a change of scenery with some cooler weather starting today when the team practices alongside the New England Patriots in Foxborough before Friday night’s nationally-televised preseason game.
They’ll have an opportunity to test themselves daily by lining up against a team considered a ‘playoff contender’ virtually every season, posing an opportunity for both team and individual assessment.
“I’m looking forward to it and looking forward to practicing against some good offensive linemen – [other] good offensive lineman, I should say – and getting better,” said defensive end Da’Quan Bowers.
Rather than going up against guys like Donald Penn and Demar Dotson — two players he sees every day– he can face guys like Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer.
“Practicing against the best and competing against the best is the only way to be the best. So I think it will be a benefit for us.”
After nearly a month in camp but with three preseason games still to come, players can start to feel worn down or lose sight of the ‘big picture.’ Schiano feels the practices will give an instant energy boost to the team.
“Doug Martin can run the ball against a really good defensive front but not have to be slammed into the ground, so we get seven-eighths of real play for Doug, and that’s just one example,” Schiano said. “To be able to go against that kind of speed and a different team for three days, it’s all good.”
Schiano enjoys a close relationship with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. He brought his coaching staff up to New England this offseason to work on off-the-field logistics and preparation for the upcoming year.
“It was really just to work through what we were going to do,” Schiano said on the visit. “How did we learn from last year? What was good? What wasn’t good? Let’s talk about it.”
Schiano said two share a lot of the same beliefs and coaching philosophies, even if schematically — such as their base packages on defense — are different.
“I do happen to agree with a lot of things that they do, so it’s great to be able to have a guy who has been through it and experienced a lot of things. To bounce stuff off of him at times, that’s certainly a huge asset for me and an opportunity for me.”
Nicks dealing with long-term injury, will play Friday
All-Pro guard Carl Nicks is expected to play Friday night, seeing his first action since being placed on injured reserve last year with a torn plantar plate in his left foot. He’ll get anywhere from 10 to 15 snaps.
It was revealed Monday, however, that Nick’s injury will be a long-term issue and that he’ll be playing through significant pain for the rest of his career.
“It’s been described to me as many different things and I can’t tell you the one thing it is, but it’s pretty bad,” Nicks told reporters Monday.
The team hopes that by limiting his workload at times during practice that they can prolong his career and keep him productive on Sundays.
“Yeah I don’t know about, ‘just get me to game day,’ but maybe I’ll just take it easier during the week. I’ll still practice but just probably not every play.”
Cornerback Darrelle Revis participated in 7-on-7s for the first time during training camp Monday. He traveled with the team to Foxborough but is not expected to play Friday.
Defensive ends Adrian Clayborn, who is returning from a groin strain, and Aaron Morgan, who is coming off a stinger, both traveled with the team as well.
Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph did not make the trip. Joseph, who is coming off season-ending knee surgery, is staying behind to work with the training staff.
Other players staying in Tampa who will miss Friday’s preseason game include kicker Lawrence Tynes (toe), wide receiver Chris Owusu (ankle), and cornerback Danny Gorrer (groin).