Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter has used the word “experiment’’ to describe his plan to work right guard Ali Marpet at center during the early stages of the team’s offseason workout program.
Marpet says this is no experiment.
Marpet, who has started at guard since he came to the Bucs as a second-round draft pick (61st overall) two years ago, says he believes this is just the beginning of a major career shift.
“I’m taking this as, it’s my job (now),’’ Marpet said. “They’re putting me there, so it’s my job.’’
The best news is that Marpet will not go kicking and screaming into this new job. It’s not one he envisions himself telling the Bucs to shove somewhere because he’s actually looking forward to doing it.
“Physically I think (playing) center will be easier (than playing guard),’’ Marpet said. “But mentally it’s much more difficult. And being able to communicate when you’re out of breath, I imagine that will be tricky.’’
Marpet doesn’t know just how tricky because he’s never really played center before. He said he was always the emergency center in high school and he’s dabbled there a bit in practice with the Bucs.
But as far as actually getting down into a stance, calling out the protections to the rest of the line and snapping the ball back to quarterback Jameis Winston, he’s never done that in a moment that matters before.
To prepare for that moment Marpet says he’s been watching tape of Falcons center Alex Mack. He admits, though, that watching tape of the best center in the game won’t prepare him for the most difficult part of the job.
“Being able to communicate effectively, that’s the hardest part,’’ Marpet said. “Just having that mental part of the game down and being able to communicate it quickly because everything happens so fast.’’
Marpet said the fact he is now entering into his third year in Koetter’s system should help him make a smooth transition because he’s well aware already of the scheme and all of its nuances.
“(The key to succeeding) is not really thinking at the line and just being able to make a decision,’’ he said. “I mean, I feel like I’ve got a good grasp of (the scheme). I’ve just never had to (be the guy) to get all five guys on the same page.’’