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Wednesday Notes: Don't Wish Away Time

Posted Sep 4, 2013

The Buccaneers turned their attention fully to the Jets on Wednesday, trying to stay focused on the task at hand despite the growing excitement for the season opener…Plus, injury updates, depth chart revelations and more

Watch: Gerald McCoy reacts to the first real game week


Gerald McCoy didn't have to turn around to know the glowing red numbers were ticking down above his head.

 

As the loquacious McCoy held court in front of his locker on Wednesday, the clock that has graced the west wall of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' locker room since Head Coach Greg Schiano's arrival kept up its inexorable countdown.  With enormous digital numbers marking the days, hours, minutes and seconds until kickoff of the Buccaneers' 2013 regular-season opener, the clock was a reminder that a day the team has been focused on for months has nearly arrived.

 

With it comes a new atmosphere at One Buccaneer Place, particularly on the practice field.

 

"It's game week," said McCoy.  "We've got this clock this clock that's right behind me.  I remember when it was a hundred-plus days, and now it's down to four.  It's getting close, it's getting really close, and you can definitely tell with the energy around the building and just the difference in preparation between the preseason and now.  It's a lot different, but let's take it day by day.  You don't want to wish away time."

 

Schiano used that same final phrase in his press conference on Wednesday, and it's obviously a theme he is using to keep his team grounded in these important days of work before the season-opening game against the Jets in New York.  The Bucs certainly began looking closely at the Jets before this week, and they got in a "bonus" practice on Monday, but as is the case in most weeks, the bulk of the game-planning is accomplished from Wednesday through Friday.  As revved up as his team is for the start of the regular season, Schiano wants to keep them focused on the moment so that they don't waste any valuable preparation time.

 

“It’s exciting," Schiano conceded.  "You put a lot of work in to get to this point, and now it’s staring you in the face.  We have this time to prepare; that’s great that you want to play in the game, but let’s do the preparation. That’s what gives you the true confidence to go in there and execute. Everybody’s a little antsy to play in a real game, but let’s get ready for it.”

 

The Bucs certainly don't want to look past Sunday – that's Coaching 101 – but they'll follow up the Jets game with a key divisional matchup with New Orleans at Home and a trip back to the northeast to take on the New England Patriots in Week Three.  They would like to build up some momentum for those games and the rest of the schedule with a sharp performance in Sunday's opener.

 

"It sets the tone for the season," said McCoy.  "We want to start fast.  If we can start out fast, that's the tempo and tone we want to set early in the season, and then we keep  going we just build off the first game and go from that.  We'll see what we need to fix or just build off the things we did good, just kind of judge and rate where you're at."

 

* Three Buccaneers were held out of practice on Wednesday: tight end Tom Crabtree, cornerback Rashaan Melvin and guard Carl Nicks.  After practice, the team released its first official injury report of the new season:

 

Player

Injury

Wednesday Practice Status

TE Tom Crabtree

Ankle

Did Not Participate

RB Mike James

Eye

Limited Participation

FB Erik Lorig

Calf

Limited Participation

CB Rashaan Melvin

Hamstring

Did Not Participate

G Carl Nicks

Foot

Did Not Participate

CB Darrelle Revis

Knee

Full Participation

 

Revis's appearance on the injury report is not an indication that Schiano is pulling back from the belief that the all-pro cornerback will suit up for the opener.  How many snaps Revis ends up playing, however, has not yet been determined and will depend upon how things go on Sunday.

 

“I think we’re going to have to just watch and see how it goes," said Schiano.  "I’m not going to go in with too much of a preconceived notion. Let’s see what the conditions are, let’s see how he’s feeling. The other thing that always gets you is emotions; that can tire you out as well. I think to try to make a predetermined plan wouldn’t be prudent, I think we just have to play it by ear. The one good thing that I feel is we have a good relationship; he communicates with me very clearly, so that’s good.

 

 

“He looks good [on the practice field].  He's doing a good job out there.  It’s just all going to be a matter of, ‘Does he have the confidence? Does he feel it’s ready to go?’ I hope so.”

 

* The Buccaneers' pared-down depth chart was unveiled on Tuesday after a long weekend of roster maneuvering.  Schiano has described the roster at this time of the year as a "fluid situation," and it's fair to apply the same caveat to the depth chart.  Jobs can still be won and lost during the regular season, and injuries can occasionally alter the lineup.  In addition, there are plenty of significant jobs beyond those listed as the 22 offensive and defensive starters, and some positions rely more heavily on rotations than others.

 

Still, the depth chart does list the anticipated starters for the first week of the season – barring another change in the coming days – and they included a few players who were new to such roles.  One was strongside linebacker Dekoda Watson, who is slated to make his first opening-day start in his fourth NFL season.

 

"I remember starting a couple games my rookie season because Quincy [Black] was hurt, but it's nothing like being 'that guy' now," said Watson, who battled an equally impressive Jonathan Casillas for the starting job.  "At the same time, we'll just see how it goes.  I'll just go in there and continue to work hard.  I'm not going to get complacent, get comfortable or anything like that.  I'm out here trying to prove myself every day.

 

"I think what you've got to do is be positive but be humble at the same time.  You just want to be hot as fire but cool as ice at the same time.  I just want to go in there and read my keys and show the coaches that, hey, he did his thing, he worked for it.  I don't want to let anyone down."

 

Third-year defensive end Da'Quan Bowers will not be making his first opening-day start, if Sunday's game does indeed follow the depth chart, but he still feels as if he's headed in the right direction.  Bowers opened camp as the starter at left end and with the challenge from Schiano to progress his game from situational pass-rushing to every-down play.  As the season begins, it's Daniel Te'o-Nesheim who is listed first at left end, but Schiano said on Wednesday that Bowers will still contribute significantly, and not just in pass-rushing downs.

 

“[He can be] very effective, I think, in all situations, not just third down," said Schiano. "He’ll play in all situations. So I think, as we have, we’re going to play some D-linemen; we’re going to rotate them through. Right now, I guess the extended forecast is 82 [degrees] and sunny [for the game], so that’ll be a pretty warm day, so we’ll see. He’s going to play.”

 

Bowers knows that his career is still on the rise, and he's confident in the path that Schiano and the rest of the staff has charted for his continued development.  On Wednesday, he said he likes being challenged and doesn't need it to be subtle.

 

"He's invested a lot in me," said Bowers of Schiano.  "He's believed in me and he's given me shots.  I appreciate that, and I owe it to this organization to be that guy that can play on any down and play anywhere.  And be dominant – not just play but be dominant.  Whether it's on first or second down or whether it's on third down, whether it's at right, left or nose guard, it doesn't matter.  Whenever they call my duties, it's my job to try to fulfill it the best that I can.

 

"I think he's done a good job with me over camp.  It wasn't easy, it hasn't been easy and it's still not easy, but we've been working toward that goal."

 

* The Buccaneers found out with the rest of the nation on Wednesday that rookie QB Geno Smith will indeed start the season opener against the Buccaneers, as anticipated.  With Mark Sanchez ailing, that probably didn't come as a big surprise to Tampa Bay players, but according to McCoy it wasn't an announcement the Bucs were waiting on with bated breath.

 

"We don't really care who it is," said the Buc DT.  "We're just trying to beat the Jets.  Whoever's in, we'll adjust accordingly but we're prepared to go against whoever.  It doesn't really matter to us.  We're just focused on what we have to do well, to execute and beat whoever's in front of us."

 

Smith, the former West Virginia star, was the 39th player chosen in April's draft and the second quarterback after the Bills grabbed Florida State's E.J. Manuel at #16.  Given that Smith had a very visible fall down the ranks on draft weekend, and given that he is, of course, a rookie, he might be viewed as an easier target for an opposing defense.  Bowers isn't so sure.  He sees a player with talent and motivation to spare.

 

"He's in this league for a reason, I'll put it like that," said the Bucs' lineman.  "He's not as bad as everybody is going to make him seem.  He's a great athlete.  I think he's going to try to take control of that team.  He understands that this is his opportunity to be that guy for this team, and I'm thinking he's going to be well-prepared and ready for this game."

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