The preseason is all about making strides, steps towards being regular-season ready. For the Bucs preparing with a new staff, those steps can take longer.
This week, the Bucs are ready to raise the bar as they get set for another phase, the regular season.
The improvements the Bucs are making are small, but there was progress from Week 1 to Week 2. It started with the offensive line. Patrick Omameh got his chance to start at right guard against the Miami Dolphins. He was an upgrade, but the most noticeable difference was the intensity the line played with.
"I just think the way we came out, we were more physical," said Brandon Myers. "Coach Smith has been talking about that, being more physical. Kind of set the tone early. I think for the most part we did that."
"I thought we did a lot better this week," said Evan Dietrich-Smith. "Obviously there's still room for improvement. I think every guy can attest to that. We took a step in the right direction."
The fan tents at One Buc Place are coming down, which is a sign that the regular season is getting close. Lovie Smith has actually started his regular season routine.
The new coach feels it's important for the players to get use to the new schedule before September.
"It's critical to do that," said Smith. "Once the regular season comes, you want guys to know what they're doing every second and just a routine instead of wondering what this is like, and that's what's so good about this week -- going through the game week routine with the players.
"It's not like we're going to run all of the defenses, offenses and special teams plays we're going to run during the season, but just how we group things when -- a regular week -- we install all of our different game plans, whether it be red zone, two-minute drill or whatever. That's always good for the players to see when we lift, when you have to get your lifts in through the week. It's a little bit different training and working out in the offseason as opposed to the regular season.
"There are a lot things for us to go over."
This is the practice game that matters the most. Starters will play the first three quarters; their last game before the regular season. It's a final test to earn a starting job and critical game for cornerback Alterraun Verner, who has yet to play a game for the Bucs.
"If they're going to play against Carolina, we need to see them right now," added Smith. "If they're not out there, we're in a hole a little bit. So for Alterraun Verner, it's important that he get out there and start playing our defense, seeing his role. You know, getting comfortable."
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