Newly constructed Bucs finally share a field

by Gary Shelton on May 23, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Rays

Winston impressed with his new center./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston impressed with his new center./CARMEN MANDATO

Wednesday, 2 a.m.

It's a long time until football season. But for the Tampa Bay Bucs, the start of OTAs are at least a chance for players to check out their new teammates.

Think of Jamies Winston, for instance, who has a new center ... and a new running back.

Think of Gerald McCoy, who has a new guy on his left side ... and a new guy on his right. New boss, too.

And so the Bucs began their work in the all-volunteer OTAs. There are new corners, and new defensive ends, and a new center, and new

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McCoy likes his new line mates./CARMEN MANDATO

McCoy likes his new line mates./CARMEN MANDATO

safeties, and new defensive tackles. New coaches and a new kicker, too. Hopefully, the results will be new, too.

And, yeah, Winston likes the look of Ryan Jensen in front of him.

“Absolutely I watched some film on Ryan Jensen," Winston said. "I’m excited to have one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers out there. He’s definitely a joy of a teammate and, like I said, we receive him. Anybody that’s coming here with a positive attitude to make us better, and that’s what Ryan has definitely made us – better – just by his presence and his mentality.”

Jensen has the reputation as an enforcer, and his presence promises to make the offensive line better.

“Well my offensive line, they all have my back," Winston said. "I think that’s the mentality that Coach Warhop has created in that room. But having a guy like Ryan, that’s just him. His toughness, his grit, is all in his play. So definitely having a guy like that who’s your center, your main horse leading the pack, it’s helpful. We had guys like Logan Mankins, who was a hoss, and Gosder Cherilus who was a vet guy, but again, having Jensen in there it just adds a lot to the offensive line and I think it helps us.”

A better offensive line could make life easier for new running back Ronald Jones II.

“I like that he’s a great kid," Winston said. "He has a great perspective on everything and he works hard. Anybody that comes in here willing to work, willing to apply themselves and get better, they’re definitely received. That’s what he’s coming here and doing and he’s going to bring that electric side to our offense. Watching some clips on him just to see how explosive he is out of the backfield is very impressive, so I can’t wait to see him break some long touchdown runs for us.”

Of course, everything isn't new for Winston. He wants to work more on his chemistry with DeSean Jackson.

“Any time that he’s here, he’s coming here to work his tail off so we definitely have got to take advantage of that opportunity," Winston said. "I know ‘D-Jack’, he’s been doing it for a long time so he’s equipped. He’s always going to come back ready, he’s always going to come back to be the fastest man in the league and always ready to get his YAC (yards after catch) so I’m just happy to have him here today and I know he’s going to be here, in and out, throughout the OTA process. I trust that guy.”

Winston even had some words for former FSU teammates Bobo Wilson.

“Just grit," Winston said. "I call him ‘Young Antonio Brown’ because of just his work ethic. He’s constantly working, he’s constantly processing and growing. I’m blessed to have him here with me because we had a good connection at Florida State so just to see him out there doing his thing, I’m very proud of him. But as we all know, this is the NFL so everyone has to compete. Everyone has to get better. He definitely takes on that challenge because he’s going to compete with the best.”

Then there is Mike Evans, who wants to improve his own yards after catch.

“I think the receivers and the quarterbacks get more out of it than anybody else," Evans said. "We get the timing down and the rhythm. Every year, it seems like the offseason goes by really fast, but it really doesn’t, especially when you don’t make the playoffs. We get like three months off, get time for our bodies to heal. You kind of miss it after a while. I have fun in the offseason with my family and my friends and things like that, but I love to get back and be with my teammates and get ready for the season.

“As far as YAC (yards after catch), it wasn't my worst year playing, maybe my second worst, but YAC, my yards after catch wasn’t as good. I don’t know what it was. I guess my awareness wasn’t where it should’ve been. I’ve just got to work on it more in practice and get more reps at it.”

Imagine the way this team suddenly looks to McCoy, the perennial Pro Bowler who suddenly will have Jason-Pierre Paul and Vita Vea on either side of him with Vinny Curry also on the line.

"It’s great, man," McCoy said. "You always want to welcome new guys whether they are a rookie like Vita (Vea) or Super Bowl champions in JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) and Vinny (Curry) and Beau [Allen] and Mitch (Unrein) has played on a Super Bowl team, so we have a lot of experience. That is what we need. Me going into my ninth year, we need more experience in the room and I am excited about it. It’s going to be good.

"Here’s the thing, the media, you guys see names and you immediately get excited. There is a lot of work to be done. I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve seen people come in and people go out and I am excited for the names, which is great, (but) so much work to be done. I look at things a little different. I look at it like now we have guys where we don’t have to lay a foundation. They have the foundation because of all the experience that they have, but so much work to be done. Today is the first day of OTAs. We had phase one and Phase Two where we learned new techniques from (Defensive Line) Coach Buck (Brentson Buckner). But, so much work to be done. I don’t all get all hyped like that. Too much work to be done, so I’m excited for the names, but so much work.”

McCoy said he likes the addition of new coach Brentson Buckner, too.

“The thing I like about Buck is he played the game," McCoy said. "He played at a high level. I think Coach Buck played in three Super Bowls. That’s some experience there and that’s playing at a high level. You’re not playing your regular level of playing of playing the regular season. If you’re going to the Super Bowl, you are going all the way and he did it three times. So, he knows what it takes to get there, especially at our position as a D-lineman and I just love his energy. He just keeps it as real as it gets.

"There was a day in Phase Two where he challenged me. It was all positive. He was talking to me and talking to me and chattering at me in my ear just to push me because there is no vet. There is no Pro Bowl. Everybody is on the same plane and that’s what I love about him. He doesn’t care about who you are or what you’ve done. He has been brought here for a job and that is what he is going to do. I love that about him. He just keeps it real. He doesn’t care how you feel. He is going to tell you how it is, he is going to coach you and it’s onto the next. If you don’t like it, you shrug, ‘Ok, whatever.’ I am here to do a job and I am going to do it. I love that about Buck.”

McCoy had one other instruction for Vea.

"In Vita’s mandatory rookie duties, you can mark it, I told him he has to tell my children that he is Maui from Moana," McCoy said. "When he introduces himself to my kids, that’s the only rookie duty I am going to give him. There is no dinner, there is none of that. You make sure when you introduce yourself to my kids, you introduce yourself as Maui, no questions asked. He doesn’t get an option.”

Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter said the OTAs are dependent upon the players.

“It’s different for every guy," Koetter said. "Every guy, this time of year when you’re not playing actual football, every guy is at a different place. What Mike Evans is going to show is a lot different than what Bobo Wilson is going to show. What Kwon Alexander is going to show is different than what Jack Cichy is going to show. So, you have some guys that, the tempo of practice was overwhelming to them today because it was fast and for other guys, it’s just old hat. For the new players, especially on defense, we have a lot more new guys and for rookies in general on both sides, they’re just fighting to learn terminology.

"When we were going fast today, Beau Allen, for example, who’s been here every day in the offseason program, has been working his tail off, but when the tempo was going fast in no huddle, I heard him asking Gerald a couple of times, ‘What’s the call?’ It’s different. It’s not like he doesn’t know how to play football, but it’s just a different terminology. That’s why we try to work. When we can’t really do everything football-wise, tackling to the ground, blocking, that sort of thing, you’re trying to at least work on the live communication part and the tempo part of the game. So, 90 guys, some guys fighting for survival, fighting to just hang on. Other guys are trying to make improvements every day. All the guys that were here last year have been talked to by their coaches about specific things they need to do at their position to improve.”

The team's OTAs resume today.












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