TAMPA – The Buccaneers have been waiting for more than a year to see guard J.R. Sweezy throw a block in anger in a Bucs uniform. They’ll finally get their chance today when the pads go for the first time this training camp and all indications are, Sweezy will throw a lot of very angry blocks.
Though they’ve never actually seen him work in pads before, Sweezy’s teammates have already pegged him as one of the “meanest’’ players on the team. Meaner even than center Joe Hawley, who has long had a reputation for sparking dust-ups with teammates during camp drills.
“He’s real mean,’’ Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans said of Sweezy earlier this week. “It’s just his demeanor and how physical he is. He gets out there and he’s had to pull up on guys (before now) because we don’t have pads on yet. When he gets the pads on, I don’t want to be in his way.’’
Evans won’t have to worry about that. The players who are most likely to get into Sweezy’s way are defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Chris Baker and end Robert Ayers, who will move inside to tackle on passing downs and has a tendency to play a rather mean game himself.
This figures to be a lot of fun, but of course, the Bucs didn’t sign Sweezy away from the Seahawks a year ago because they need him to spice up training camp. He was signed to what was then a five-year, $32.5 million contract to make the Bucs offensive line better.
That contract has since been restructured to protect the Bucs from a recurrence of the back of problems that Sweezy out all of last year, but the expectations are still the same, especially now that Sweezy will be manning his usual right guard spot.
The Bucs original plan for Sweezy was to place him at left guard as a replacement for the now retired Logan Mankins, but Kevin Pamphile has proved he can fill that job just fine so the Bucs are keeping Sweezy at right guard and moving Ali Marpett to center.
That may seem like a bit of a gamble, especially with Marpet playing so well at right guard his first two years, but the Bucs believe their offensive line will be even better with Marpet at center and Pamphile and Sweezy at guard.
“We’re real excited about J.R.,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. “Getting him back after missing all of last year is a bonus for us. And as the pads go on, that plays to J.R.’s strengths, so we’ll see how that goes.’’