As the head coach in Chicago for nine years, Lovie Smith followed a specific game-by-game progression in the preseason for the amount of snaps played by his team's starters. He doesn't plan to deviate from that plan now that he's in his first year at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' helm.
Smith's Buccaneers will play their first game on Friday night in Jacksonville, and the coaches have already drawn up the substitution plans that will involve upwards of 80 players. He didn't share the specifics of that plan as it relates to each player after Wednesday's training camp practice – he wanted the players to hear it from him first that evening – but he did outline the basic structure.
Fans are likely to see quarterback Josh McCown and many of the other starters in baseball caps by the end of the first quarter, but Smith wants the rest of the players to be prepared for anything.
"As a general rule, if you're one of the starters, [you'll play] about a quarter or so, somewhere around there," said the coach. "The third preseason game, we'll play our guys into the third quarter – I'm talking about our starters. The rest of the time, we'll look at the reps, see how the game is going. Again, we have a chart already figured out right now. We're going to go over that with the players tonight and they'll know tomorrow exactly how much they'll play. But for them, we're going to ask all the guys to stay in the game the entire time because you just never know."
Smith touched on several other topics during his Wednesday press briefing. Those discussions are below.
"There's nothing really I can give you today. We've been hitting pretty hard. Weather, all that. We have a game coming up, of course, so we want the guys to be fresh, so we took the pads off today. Just went in shells and got some good, crisp work done. We're anxious to play. You can only hit your teammate so hard. I'm anxious to let our defensive linemen go. You haven't seen us with any live blocks below the waist and just being able to finish plays. We have a depth chart and we think we kind of know, but you need to get to this next step. For us, everything we do in training camp is to prepare for the season. First game, but first road game [against Jacksonville on Friday] – how we travel and different things like that. Jacksonville is coming up."**
On wide receiver Skye Dawson* "He's had a couple [of catches] throughout. He can return punts. Of course, good quickness, good speed. Another one of those players that hasn't played a lot, but has some ability that we like and we want to see him in a game situation."On the details of his gameday setup "We had one of our walkthroughs Monday at the stadium. We haven't used headphones – communication from the press box down to the sideline. Just our routine. Defense on the left on the bench, offense on the right. There's so many things you have to go over when it's your first time together and that's what we're all going through right now. So this is all important, again, to prepare us for Carolina [in Week 1]."On where the offensive and defensive coordinators will be situated during games "One will be in the booth, one will be on the sideline. Jeff Tedford will be up top, Leslie Frazier will be down on the sideline."On quarterback Mike Glennon "We ask guys to play different roles throughout. Sometimes you have one role and we ask you to play another. You want to see how guys respond and how they act. You want to be a pro about it – a real pro about it. A professional, and that's what Mike has been. He's done everything we've asked him to do. He wants to be a starting quarterback in the league – someday he will. But right now, we're asking him to move into a different role and he has accepted that role. Quarterback room is a tight room. Of course [quarterbacks coach] Marcus [Arroyo] does a great job with them. They're all helping each other. Mike will have a role on our team. The backup quarterback plays an important [role]. Not only that, Mike will also be our second holder. Little things like that that we'll ask him to do. But whatever we ask him to do, he'll do it well."*
On what would be a good preseason performance for Glennon** "I don't think you can put it just like that. What we want him to do, first game, we're going to set the bar – see exactly where we are. And then from there, we want improvement the next game, leading up to our best ball when we play Carolina. That's all we're asking the players to do."On what he liked about Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles leading up to the draft "I liked everything about him. Starting off, I liked the way he played in his last game of football in the Fiesta Bowl against a good Baylor team. He performed well. I was out last year – did I tell y'all that? I was out last year and I watched him quite a bit. Just being a football fan, he played good ball. When we worked him out, he had a great workout. When you meet him, great guy. Was a sponge hungry to get to the next level and we liked him an awful lot, of course just like Jacksonville did. I think he has a bright future ahead of him to say the least."On if he has any concerns at offensive line "To me right now, I have concerns about every position on the team. I haven't seen anyone in any live action with our football team. So I'm anxious to see what we have. I know we've looked good in drills. Gerald McCoy is a dominant defensive lineman inside. We've been judging our guards based on going against him and Clinton McDonald and players like that. And they've held their own. Evan [Dietrich-Smith] has been a great addition. [He is] bright. You need someone like that at the center position."On tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and if he has seen improvement from him "He has [been improving]. Normally you don't talk a lot about a rookie until they play their first game. But just talking about a rookie coming in that missed all of the offseason work with an injury, he hasn't missed a rep. Every day, you could have asked a question about him – he's done something on the football field. Great size. Off the field, he's been a student of the game. Pretty impressed with what he has done so far and I will be surprised if he doesn't play well."On the transition from head coach last year to defensive coordinator this year
"It's been relatively smooth. Lovie is a great guy – a great guy to be around. Tremendous teacher. I have a lot of respect for him. I had a lot of respect for him when we were on opposite sidelines and I've enjoyed the working experience. Looking forward to bring our team along and seeing our defense have success."