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Dirk Koetter believes his Bucs’ team has had a productive off-season

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The off-season checklist for the Tampa Bay Bucs is almost complete.

Whether the Bucs are as well? We’ll see.

“What we accomplished…number one is we put in a whole new defensive scheme,” Bucs’ coach Dirk Koetter said. “A whole new special teams scheme, we integrated 24 rookies and five or six free agents into our system. We continued to develop our offensive scheme.

“When you’re going against each other every day, you’re going to have happy (and) sad days. Again, for every good play on one side of the ball, the other side of the ball is mad. The other thing when you’re playing underwear football, that’s what gets guys testy out there because the blocking is not live, so if guy is going a little faster than he should and beats his guy, of course that guy’s pride is going to rear its ugly head and a guy is going to compete. I want a team full of competitors. I want a bunch of guys that are going to play emotional, hard-nosed football. I don’t think we should be backing down from anything and again, if you think that it’s not going to get a little heated out there, we’re kidding ourselves.”

Koetter talked about a lack of depth at certain positions.

“You’re never exactly where you want to be,” Koetter said. “Every team has depth at some positions and not at others. We’re looking to add some pieces at a couple of spots, but you’re not going to add them this time of year. Some of those things aren’t going to happen until final cut-downs.

“Think about it, when you start going down from 90 to 53 and every team lets about 40 guys go, that’s a lot of good football players on the streets and there will be some guys out there at that time. Of course we have a couple of spots, but for now our guys are our guys and we’re going to coach them up and they’re doing a good job of soaking it in.”

The Bucs now take a break from their practices until training camp. But Koetter suggested players have things to work on.

“Every one of these guys has some things that they’re going to be working on.
Some of it is just working on their body, working on their conditioning level, working on their strength, working on their flexibility. Some of them, it’s definitely playbook work. On both sides of the ball, some guys will be studying up, but they’ve been 10 straight weeks – for our vets – they’ve been 10 straight weeks of work. They definitely need some time off and for the veterans; they have a pretty good idea of where they need to be when they come back. For the rookies, they still have a few more days here with the rookie symposium and then we’re back at it after that.”

Koetter said that No. 1 draft pick Vernon Hargreaves had played well.

“He’s going to play. Like you said, the guy has made plays every single day. Vernon is a football player, everything we thought when we drafted him. He’s going to play. It will all fall in place.

“A lot of that will be determined by health, but I’m very confident that Vernon can either play inside at the nickel or play outside. For whoever doesn’t know the difference, the nickel corner plays over the slot and regular corners play outside on the wide out and Vernon can play both.”

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Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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