It was roughly quarter to noon on Tuesday and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had just finished another muggy OTA practice at One Buccaneer Place, but veteran defensive backs Dashon Goldson and Darrelle Revis were in no hurry to get back into the air-conditioned building.
Goldson and Revis – the Buccaneers two prized additions to the secondary during the 2013 offseason – were joined by a pair of the team's youngest corners, Leonard Johnson and Danny Gorrer, for an interesting drill on a small strip of grass between two of the practice fields. Revis, who is still in the latter stages of his recovery from a 2012 knee injury, was basically just helping out by lobbing passes but Goldson was in full-on mentoring mood as the DBs took turns in various parts of the exercise.
The drill: One player pretends to be a receiver and faces back towards the pass-thrower (Revis). The other player stands close to the first one, facing him, with his back to the passer, and waits for some indication from the receiver's eyes and hands that the pass is arriving. The second player then tries to bat the ball away with his arms at the last second without turning around to see where it is.
No assistant coaches were anywhere near the four DBs, but it was still a useful teaching session for the younger players, and some excellent additional practice for Goldson. It was also another indication of why the Buccaneers were so intent on trying to acquire the former 49er, even making an effort to trade for him a year earlier. Goldson is not only an All-Pro caliber defender, he also happens to be a born leader.
"That's something that's been in me since I was young," said Goldson, who comes off as earnest rather than arrogant in his desire to take on a leadership role on a brand new team. "I was always a motivating guy. I was always looking at myself as a guy who would try to lead out there. I know it's a young crowd that we have here, and I just want to help out and share my experiences with some of them, just show the work I've got. It's always okay to come out here and ask questions, especially of me. I just want to shine a little light on things. I've played in the postseason now, I've been a part of good teams and bad teams, but I have a lot of experience in a lot of areas."
One of Goldson's tenets is definitely the value of additional work after the final practice air horn blast, or during free moments while practice is still going on. That's something that Johnson and Gorrer witnessed firsthand on Tuesday.
"During, after [practice]…it's something that I think is important to the secondary," said Goldson. "I'm just trying to be out here and teach some of the guys the ropes and show them that extra work is always good."
Head Coach Greg Schiano wasn't surprised to see Goldson mentoring the younger players on Tuesday, and he has definitely been impressed with the safety's dedication to his craft since he arrived in Tampa.
"Dashon has been a lot of fun to work with," said Schiano. "He's a great football mind. He learns very well and he cares a lot. Like you saw, he keeps those young two corners out there and he's just throwing. No one asked him to do that. That's on him and that's what veterans need to do. We have some veterans that I know I can lean on and I think the organization can lean on. You need that. I'm glad he's ours."
Goldson is pushing his young teammates to work hard in the meeting rooms, as well, in order to establish the base of knowledge they need in order to get the most out of these OTA practices. He is also, quite obviously, establishing a very strong rapport with his fellow defensive backs, and that is going to help the Buccaneers when the games begin and everything is going 100 miles per hour.
"One [key is] communication," said Goldson. "A lot of breakdowns happen for lack of communication in the secondary. There's so much that goes on on the football field, in a football game, and communication is one. You need to be on the same page, of course, and that gives you the ability to play fast. Knowing what you're doing –preparation is key."
With Goldson and Revis leading the way, the Buccaneers' new-look secondary is sure to be well-prepared this season.