TAMPA – Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter doesn’t necessarily regret resting most of his starters for the final two games of the preseason this year but he probably wouldn’t have done that had he known it would be three weeks before they played again.
Koetter said Friday that he would have made a point of getting his healthy starters and regular more snaps during the preseason had he known that their projected season opener was going to have to be postponed because of the threat of Hurricane Irma.
“We would have planned training camp totally differently had we known we were going to have a bye week in Week 1,’’ Koetter said. “We wouldn’t have done it that way. Maybe we would have played our guys in preseason (Game) Four.’’
Koetter’s comments came as the Bucs wrapped up their first full week of practice and only their fourth real full-squad practice since the team cut its roster to the NFL’s mandated 53-man limit back on Sept. 2.
It was a week of workouts in which the tempo improved daily, Koetter said, but his lament suggests the level of play might not have been what he expected it to be or what he needs it to be.
The fear, of course, is that the Bucs will still look a bit rusty when they finally take the field against the Bears on Sunday, which for most of the Bucs starters and regulars will mark the 22nd day since they last played a game.
Koetter and the Bucs were doing a pretty good job, at least publicly, of absorbing that gut punch, but the fact that the long layoff could put them at a decided disadvantage seemed to be settling in on Koetter on Friday.
“You have to remember we … found only found out (last) Wednesday, the last day we kissed them goodbye (before we scattered to get away from the hurricane) that Week 1 was going to be our bye week,’’ Koetter said.
“Every other time I’ve done this, you’ve known your bye week eight months in advance. We knew ours about one day in advance. But hey, it’ll be awesome for the fans and it’ll be awesome for the players.
“It’s time to play football. Last week we were all dealing with something that made that impossible and the league made a good decision and now it’s time to play.’’