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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs eager, optimistic at annual Commerce luncheon

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Published:   |   Updated: September 2, 2014 at 10:54 PM

— Sunday’s opener against Carolina can’t come soon enough for Tampa Bay Buccaneers co-owner Bryan Glazer, who told a Chamber of Commerce audience he enters the 2014 season brimming with confidence.

Glazer was joined at Tuesday’s luncheon by general Jason Licht, head coach Lovie Smith and five players — quarterback Josh McCown, running back Doug Martin, defensive end Michael Johnson and wide receivers Vincent Jackson and rookie Mike Evans.

“What doesn’t have me excited?’’ Glazer said to a group of business and civic leaders that included Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn. “Returning players, the rookies, the free agents, this guy (Smith), this guy (Licht), the new uniforms ... everything. I cannot wait for the season to start. It’s time to go. At 4:30 on Sunday, we’re kicking off and it’s for real. It’s the best time of year.’’

Smith implored the Bay area community to loudly support the Bucs and make Raymond James Stadium a daunting destination for opposing clubs. One of Tampa Bay’s goals this fall, he said, is to go 8-0 at home behind a talent-laden defensive unit that is starting to attract national attention.

“It can be special, and we don’t shy away from that,’’ Smith said. “(Defensive tackle) Gerald McCoy is the face of our franchise, a great player. We like to think we have the best outside linebacker in the game in Lavonte David.

“There’s a standard that we set in the past around here. Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp are looking over this group, wanting a certain brand of football to be played here, and we don’t want to disappoint them.’’

McCown signed as a free agent from Chicago, where he was a backup under Smith. He joins an offense that was ranked last in the league in 2013, but the additions of Evans and rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, along with Jackson’s veteran presence, give McCown tantalizing options.

“To get Mike and Austin and the other young guys, it’s exciting,’’ McCown said. “As a quarterback, when you can look to your right and to your left and feel like one of these guys is always going to be open, that’s a comforting feeling.’’

Licht, who engineered the trade with New England last week that brought Logan Mankins to Tampa, was asked how long it would take the six-time Pro Bowl guard to get acclimated.

“For him to get comfortable and get along with the other linemen probably took about a minute,’’ Licht said. “He’s a pro and he’s been around a lot of football. He’s going to be ready to play.’’

McCown generated some of the biggest laughs of the day when he was asked about his younger brother, Luke, a former Bucs quarterback now listed as a reserve in New Orleans behind Pro Bowler Drew Brees.

The Bucs and Saints will meet twice this season as competitors in the NFC South, testing the allegiance of McCown’s parents.

“We’ve both been backups in the past when our teams played each other,’’ Josh said, “but unless something happens to Drew, I’ll be playing and (Luke) won’t be. I hope our parents would understand that and root accordingly.’’

ikaufman@tampatrib.com

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Twitter: @IKaufmanTBO

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