The Buccaneers spent a hot, humid day in Tampa out on the practice field on Saturday, and that gave new head coach Lovie Smith his first good look at his new team.
And the coach summed up the day by comparing it to two moments from his starting quarterback, Josh McCown.
McCown threw an interception to Mark Barron during 7-on-7 drills, but followed it up with a deep touchdown to Vincent Jackson. Smith said that Saturday's practice was like that: "some good, some bad."
Smith admitted his team isn't "Carolina Panther ready" yet, but did admit this was the first real practice they've had, and players were still shaking off the rust. Sunday will be a padded practice, and Smith repeatedly mentioned how he's looking forward to that, as he feels padded practices can help sort out who is truly going to succeed.
On Mason Foster: When asked about his starting middle linebacker, Smith admitted that Foster has to raise his level of play because of the history of great MIKE linebackers in this system. Hardy Nickerson, Shelton Quarles and Brian Urlacher have set a standard, and Foster has work to do to get to that level. Foster did shed weight this summer, according to his coach, and looks ready to improve himself.
On Jeff Demps: Lovie Smith isn't sure how Jeff Demps will fit on the offense, but he was impressed with his speed, and noted that the crowd always seemed to start buzzing when he came up to run a route or take a handoff. However, Smith said that once pads are on, Demps' role will become more clear. Players "tell him" their role when pads are on with the way they play, Smith said.
On Austin Seferian-Jenkins: Lovie Smith was pleased with how Seferian-Jenkins has worked to catch up with his teammates after missing most of the summer due to NFL rules about players on the quarter system in college. Smith is impressed with the size of ASJ, and didn't see any ill effects of a foot injury which slowed him down a while ago. The tight end moved really well, and his coach mentioned that he's in the right place mentally as well.
On Dashon Goldson: The Bucs' free safety is going to be a key part of the defense, according to Smith, but he's not fully involved in practice just yet as he works his way back from an injury. He looked good in how he moved when he was on the field, but he's not 100% active in practice as they slowly ease him back into the flow of the workouts and drills. Lovie did say that the coaches will fix Goldson's "strike zone," and noted that Goldson is a very smart football player.
On Leonard Johnson: Smith said that Ronde Barber is the standard by which a slot corner should be measured, and listed a few areas in which Leonard Johnson impressed him as the Bucs' leading option at the position at the moment. He noted that Johnson is coachable, smart, and likes to tackle and play tough, things he needs in his nickel cornerbacks.
Other Notes: Warren Sapp was at practice, and told Scott Smith of the Bucs' official website that he loved the atmosphere at One Buc, and said he appreciated the coaches being teachers. He especially liked the way the defensive line was being coached, and said that Joe Cullen "understands the standards" set to make the Bucs' defensive line great.