TAMPA – The next meeting disgruntled Buccaneers safety T.J. Ward has with coach Dirk Koetter or defensive coordinator Mike Smith regarding his “part-time’’ role with the team won’t be his first.
Ward was told when he first signed on with the Bucs two months ago that his role would be limited and he was reminded just last week of what it is he needs to do to earn an expanded role.
“Ironically enough, I did have a sit-down with T.J in my office last Thursday, and I laid out exactly what he could do better,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said Monday.
“That’s all I’m going to say on that. That’s as far as I’ll go with that, but last Thursday I met with T.J. in my office and told him exactly what I thought he needed to do.’’
Koetter’s comments came a day after Ward complained about a lack of playing time in the wake of the Bucs 30-27 loss to the Bills, one in which he played just 24 of the team’s 68 defensive snaps.
“I did not come here to rotate,’’ Ward said, referring to the Bucs three-man rotation at the safety position. “I did not come here to be a part-time player.
“I came here to make this defense better (and) be on the field 100 percent of the time. I destruct offenses. That’s what I do. I need to be out there. Last week, I didn’t even play the first half.’’
Prior to Sunday, Ward had played 110 defensive snaps, which was three less than fellow safety Keith Tandy, who had missed each of the Bucs previous two games with a hip injury.
Koetter noted, though, that Ward himself has missed time with a hip injury and that when he came to the Bucs he was just coming off a hamstring injury that had limited all through training camp and the preseason.
Koetter also acknowledged Ward’s frustration as well as that of defensive tackle Chris Baker, who supported Ward’s claim with a post on social media, but Koetter chalked all that up to frustration over the loss.
“My take on it is, when you lose games and you lose a game you probably should have won like (we did Sunday), everybody’s frustrated,’’ Koetter said. “That’s just human nature to be frustrated.
“Everyone is frustrated, and I talked to the team about – all of our issues are self-inflicted. The majority of our issues are self-inflicted and we’re the only ones that can fix them.’’
It appears as though this self-inflicted issue has been festering for a while, and it also appears as if it will be up to Ward to fix it. Whether he can or not remains to be seen.
Ward was beaten badly on the touchdown pass to tight end Logan Thomas in the third quarter of Sunday’s loss and plays like that won’t earn him the playing time he wants.
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