TAMPA (FOX 13) - Buccaneers players have been waiting for this day for six weeks: Day One of Training Camp. It’s a chance to kick-start the 2017 campaign, but to Head Coach Dirk Koetter, it looked more like a sputter.
"We looked like we've been off for six weeks,” complained Koetter. "We looked a little rusty. Too many balls on the ground, too many guys on the ground, but both sides made plays, which is what you've got to do right now. Sometimes the defense is going to make plays. Sometimes the offense. It was good to get out here. It's great to have the fans out here. It's good to just get started. When you're starting training camp, you've got 10,000 meetings and hoops you've got to jump through. It's great to get on the grass and get started. We are a long way away, but it's good to be out here."
This biggest concern comes during 11 on 11. There's a reason quarterbacks wear an orange jersey. It's not a throwback to Bucco Bruce days -- it's a warning not to hit the quarterback. But Gerald McCoy came dangerously close causing not only a scare, but a turnover.
"Oh my gosh, man. I almost teared up going to the next rep. Three is the franchise,” said McCoy, referencing quarterback Jameis Winston “Forget 93, forget 13, 11 and 1 -- I don't know what number he is going to be on any given day -- 91, 98, 54, 58. 3. Three is the one. If 3 ain't out there, eh. But when I did that, I was ugh, eh, yeah."
"He doesn't have to apologize,” smiled Winston. "You can't apologize for being great."
"Once he saw it was me, it was like, 'Ah, alright,’” laughed McCoy. "But at the same time, I did the same thing, 'Ah, ugh, uh.' Then Dirk gave me that eye and I was like, 'Shoot, that's an office visit later. I'll be in the principal's office.’"
Fan filled the stands to their capacity of 3,000, curious to see if the team can back up all the preseason hype. The Bucs have not made the playoff in 10 years, but are predicted by many national outlets to end that streak this season.
There is a definite buzz about the Bucs around Tampa and the players are feeling it.
"It's different,” said Winston. "Well, you know everything is a process and everyone loves winners. When you win, this community just jumps behind you and there's no telling how good we can be with them behind us. We love our fans.
“I always think about that Seattle game. The games later in the season when that stadium got packed. When we look up there and we see everybody behind us, we're just like 'Ok, we can't let these people down.' If we play a game and the other team has more fans than us, we're like, 'Is this a home game or is this an away game?' Our fans play a big part in it and definitely having this community around us makes us strive harder."
The plan is in place. The work is underway and it's up to the players to build towards matching the preseason hype.