Donning a Tampa Bay Buccaneers themed face mask, head coach Bruce Arians sat down for a zoom conference with media members to discuss everything concerning the team heading into their 2020 Training Camp.
Of course, one big question awaiting a resolution is the decision laying ahead for Bucs left tackle, Donovan Smith. The left tackle has already voiced some concerns over whether or not it is wise for the league to move forward with the season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Regarding Tom Brady’s blindside protector, Arians had this to say,
“I expect him to report on time. Obviously it’s a personal choice for guys to do this, and I respect their choice.”
The obvious problem that would arise if Smith decides to opt-out of the 2020 NFL Season is who would move into the starting left tackle spot. Many have speculated first-round draft pick Tristan Wirfs might slide from his expected right tackle spot to the left. Arians however emphasized the presence of many options, saying,
“We’d work out a bunch of guys. Joe Haeg’s played over there, Tristan could play over there, Brad Seaton - we’ve got some guys that, if he decided not to play we’d be ready to go.”
The professional sports world has already seen the restart of both the NBA and MLB with the Miami Marlins making headlines for having north of a dozen positive cases of COVID-19 since returning to play. Asked about his thoughts about the Buccaneers franchise potentially experiencing something similar as the NFL moves towards operating without the same bubble the NBA has been using, Arians stated,
“I don’t think our guys are going to get sick in the locker room. I don’t think they’ll get sick in our facility. Everybody here is tested...they’re clean. If it’s going to happen it’s going to happen outside of the facility.”
Much has been said about the NBA ‘bubble’ and how the league is taking steps to protect it’s players and staff while trying to complete their 2020 season, albeit in an abbreviated sort of way. The difference in the way the NBA and MLB have approached their respective operations is baseball has relied on players and staff to make smart decisions outside of the game to ensure the health of all involved.
The discipline it will take everyone involved in a full NFL season and postseason is not lost on Arians, is something he specifically pointed to as being needed to achieve what the nation’s most popular sports league is trying to do.
“The protocols that are in place are extremely safe. It’s going to be coaches, players, and the staff being smart outside of the building. Nobody’s going to get sick over here (in the AdventHealth Training Facility), because everybody’s got a negative test that’s in the building. You’re going to get sick somewhere else, and we’ve just got to have a lot of discipline this year, and I have a lot of confidence we can get it done.”
Another part of Tampa Bay executing their 2020 plan is going to be ensuring Arians himself stays healthy. As risk groups goes, Arians is in one of the higher risk groups given his age and medical history. So, as the team and league moves forward, it’s natural for the coach himself to take necessary precautions to ensure he is as protected as possible while still conducting his duties.
“I’m very comfortable with our protocols, now that I’ve gotten used to our protocols,” Arians said. “As far as on the field, I’ll maintain a mask and probably a shield, just for personal use and coach like I’ve always coached.”
Later in the discussion, Arians was asked about the potential of his moving up to the coaches boxes, something he laughed about and dismissed without thought.
“There’s no chance of me coaching from a box. Once we get a shield that I like, I’ll have my mask and shield on...”
Measures are being taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Training Camp and the 2020 NFL Season like none they’ve every had to put in place before. However, as unique as this season is going to be, Bruce Arians sounded confident in what the organization has in place to ensure they can put their best team on the field. For what it’s worth, it’s something to get excited about as September is just around the corner.