TAMPA – It happens to every team in every training camp. There comes a time when the players just get tired. Tired of the grind, tired of hitting their own teammates, tired of it all.
The Buccaneers, it seems, reached that point on Tuesday.
During their 10th workout of camp, their seventh in full pads, the energy level deteriorated to the point where coach Dirk Koetter felt the need to stop the workout and address the issue.
Before the start of the last team period, Koetter brought the team together and let the players know that as tough as it is, this is the time when they really have to get tough and separate themselves.
“(The message) was more about knowing what we’ve got coming up, because it’s game time,’’ quarterback Jameis Winston said, referring to the Bucs preseason opener Friday at Cincinnati. “You think about it; from now on we’re going to be playing football.
“From now we’re going to have a game every single week so the message is, ‘Now it’s time to execute. Now it’s time to (eliminate) the mistakes and mental errors. It’s time to start playing football now because it’s going to start to count before you know it.’’’
The Bucs still have a month before the games really do start to count but Koetter can’t afford for the Bucs to get into bad habits, which is why he stopped practice and tried to inject some juice back into his team.
“Yeah, today was really the first day of training camp where we were just dragging all day,’’ Koetter said. “The heat’s got something to do with it, but you can always tell when you’re getting close to that time (where you need to play a game).’’
The Bucs are there. They’ve reached that point and Koetter has made it clear that this first game is the one in which everyone who is healthy and capable of playing will play.
The list of those who may not meet that criteria, however, grew by one on Tuesday when center Ali Marpet sat out the workout with an ankle injury he suffered during Monday’s workout.
Marpet said the issue wasn’t anything he was really concerned about. The third-year pro jokingly referred to his day on the sidelines as a “veteran day off.’’
Joe Hawley filled in at center for Marpet and Hawley could do the same come Friday’s preseason opener should the Bucs opt to keep Marpet out for precautionary reasons.