Watch: Dashon Goldson's post-practice interview
As the first week of training camp came to a close on Wednesday, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano shared his opinion that Dashon Goldson has become the team's primary leader in the secondary.
"I think Dashon Goldson has taken the group over, for sure," said Schiano. "He's the man back there, running the show, which is what we anticipated and hoped for."
Schiano certainly has a better feel for his roster than anyone, but Goldson's emergence as an on-field chief has not been difficult to discern, even from a distance. Nor has it been surprising. Goldson only joined the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent this past March, and it may not be common for a player to take on such a role with a new team so quickly, but this is a case of the right man arriving at just the right time. Fellow secondary newcomer Darrelle Revis is a strong leader, too, but is being eased gradually into full-team action during practices. Goldson is on the field every day with a very young group of defensive backs, and he hasn't hesitated to let his natural leadership qualities come to the fore.
In fact, it's a responsibility he embraces.
"I take that leadership role very seriously," said the former San Francisco 49er. "I understand that I'm here to definitely help the younger guys out and definitely win football games around here. [That's how] I approach this practice field, and definitely when we're in the classroom [I need] to show these guys how to approach this game. With Revis being down, I've got to step up and play a bigger role and just help out as a leader with experience."
Joining Goldson and Revis in the current group of 16 defensive backs on the camp roster are three rookies, one first-year player and four second-year players. Of course, it's not unusual for an expanded 90-man roster to feature a large group of inexperienced players, many of whom won't in action when the regular season rolls around. However, the Bucs are likely to be relying on several young players in the secondary in 2013, such as, potentially, Johnthan Banks, Leonard Johnson, Rashaan Melvin, Danny Gorrer, Mark Barron and Ahmad Black.
Seeing all this youth around him, Goldson has taken it upon himself to provide the daily motivation on the practice field for his group. The Bucs will have to prove during the regular season that the secondary is indeed better than it was during a difficult 2012 season, but the early results on the practice field look promising. Players like Banks and Johnson and Melvin have stood out with some big plays, and they've credited their older teammates with leading the way.
"The young players have responded very well," said Goldson. "I think these guys do a great job of taking coaching, not just from the coaching staff but from the leaders at the same time. They're not prima donnas out here. These guys just want to win and want to get better, and that's a good start."
Coming off his team's narrow loss to Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII, Goldson could have focused on trying to re-sign with the 49ers, who fielded the league's third-ranked defense in 2012. San Francisco will certainly be considered a strong contender to make it back to the postseason in 2013. But Goldson believed the Bucs are also poised to make a run into January, despite – or perhaps due to – the overall youth on the roster. Seeing that combination of talent and youth from afar, Goldson knew that upon choosing the Buccaneers he would be choosing a leadership role as well.
"They already had a young football team," said Goldson. "They had a lot of very good talent. The coaching staff is very motivated, wants to win and I think that was a good showing to me. The mindset of this football team, especially since I've got here, the work has been good. Everybody puts in the work, nobody complains. They all want to win and that's what I want to do."