Second-year free safety Keith Tandy will make his third start Sunday against the Detroit Lions in the place of suspended starter Dashon Goldson, but Goldson’s presence will continue to be felt via his young apprentice, who has been encouraged to take more a vocal role out on the field.
“He’s a great player, one of the top safeties in the league, if not the best safety, so you learn a lot of stuff from just watching him. He stays in your ear whenever you’re in there — ‘Hey, Tandy, make calls! Tandy, be loud! Tandy, communicate! Let everybody else know what you see,'” said Tandy.
Through Goldson’s encouragement, making calls and communicating with his teammates upfront has started to become second nature.
“In practice, every time I go in, like when he comes out in practice and then I go in, I try to do the same thing he [does], [to] make sure I’m talking and communicating because at safety you can see a lot of things that the linebackers and d-linemen see to help them out.”
Safety is still a relatively new position for Tandy, who played cornerback at West Virginia and was selected in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. But he’s embraced the role of becoming the team’s last line of defense and having the opportunity to learn from an all-pro who also serves as a captain on defense.
“That’s one of the main things I’ve taken from him since the time he’s been here — how vocal he is and then he remembers stuff he sees in film, so he lets everybody else know, ‘Hey this is what they run, [this is] what we’re dealing with for this play,’ so it helps out so much.”
Tandy got a taste of what it means to be a starter when Goldson suffered a knee injury and missed two games. In his second NFL start against the Seattle Seahawks, Tandy picked off quarterback Russell Wilson with a touchdown-saving, one-handed grab.
“It was definitely a good feeling, making a big play at a crunch time in the game. There were a couple things we saw on film [that] gave us a few tips, and we had a pretty good disguise on the play so that helped out a lot.”
The Bucs lost the game 27-24 after allowing the Seahawks to overcome a 21-point deficit, erasing what should have been a gratifying moment, and instead left Tandy and his teammates discouraged.
“Once the game was over, I didn’t even think about the play I made. It was more so thinking about other plays we left on the field, and if you could have done things right. We try to go back and look at the film and then come back and carry us forward…so we don’t have those same mistakes again.”
Film study at home and going the extra mile has been another important lesson Tandy’s adopted from Goldson.
“He watches a lot of film and he carries it to the field. He doesn’t just watch it and forget about it. He memorizes it and takes it to the game,” said Tandy, who said he isn’t sure exactly how many hours Goldson watches after he leaves One Buc Place at 4:30 or 5:00. “When he comes back the next day, he can almost tell like every play in a series in games.”