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Bucs’ coach Dirk Koetter likes defense, but not the team’s penalties

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In their first practice in shoulder pads,  Tampa Bay Bucs’ coach Dirk Koetter liked that his team likes to use them.

What he didn’t like, however, was an old problem of the team: penalties.

Tampa Bay was one of the most penalized teams in NFL last season. It was one of the main criticisms of former coach Lovie Smith.

“What I liked was, obviously, these guys like to hit. That energy was good,” said Bucs’ current coach Koetter. “What I didn’t like was that first team period was ugly, ugly, ugly from a penalty standpoint. We can’t play that way. We’re not going to play that way. And they’ll hear about it.”

Take, for instance, a shot by safety Major Wright. It was hard, but it was illegal.

“Yeah, that was a cheap shot. That was a cheap shot,” Koetter said. “He would have been ejected, he would have been fined and it was a 15-yard penalty. We don’t need those kinds of hits. Those kinds of hits don’t do us any good because they won’t be good on Sunday. Now, there are some other hits out here, some banging, that are legal. I always talk to these guys: ‘We’ve got to take care of each other on the field. There’s hitting in live contact and there’s hitting against our teammates.’ Sometimes the rookies have a hard time learning that. Like everything out here, it’s a work in progress.”

Koetter said the Bucs will continue to work to reduce penalties.

“We’re working on the penalties,” Koetter said. “I’ve got to do a great job on that. I’ve got to keep pushing the envelope. I know our coaches are doing it. But we’ve got to do better than we did today, at least to start.”

Still, the Bucs are working on improving their defesne.

“Oh, yeah,” Koetter said. “The looks that they’re giving us, and they were real aggressive with their blitzes today, a lot of nickel off the slot. It’s great work for our quarterbacks to have to get the ball out of their hands. If we were playing real football, those quarterbacks would have been taking some hits today, which is not good, not good for our quarterbacks but good for the other ones.”

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

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