TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went to great lengths all through the offseason and preseason to keep their new, supposedly more modern and up-tempo offensive attack under wraps.
Now that the regular season is here, they aren’t giving up on that quest.
In fact, they seem to be working harder than ever to keep it concealed.
For example, on Monday, the first day devoted entirely to preparing for their season opener Sunday against Carolina, the Bucs literally sent their offensive line into hiding.
During the 30-minute portion of practice that is open to the media, the oft revamped Bucs line worked in a parking lot shielded by a tarp-covered fence behind the practice fields at One Buc Place.
The covert activities didn’t end there either. Later, when asked if he had finally settled on a starter at right guard, coach Lovie Smith said yes. When asked if he would divulge who that starter will be, he said no.
Smith responded similarly when asked who the Bucs punt and kick returners would be this week and he refused to say who the backup center would be should Evan Dietrich-Smith go down for one reason or another.
Smith also refused to provide details regarding the status of injured players such as fullback Jorvorskie Lane, who sat out Monday’s workout with a hand injury suffered during the Bucs last preseason game.
“Keep in mind that I’m going to give you very little information from here on out,’’ Smith in the wake of the Bucs 90-minute workout. “We’re in game week now, and anything we say, someone is listening.
“And with Carolina, as soon as they start telling us who practiced and who lined up in what formation on punts and different things, then I’ll start doing that, too. Until then, how about some general questions?’’
At least one general question was asked about the status of offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, and on that subject Smith did provide some details, but he still didn’t reveal much.
Tedford, a 52-year-old NFL rookie play caller, is still recovering from an as-yet unspecified medical procedure that was performed last Monday, but he did drop by One Buc Place one day over the weekend, Smith said.
Smith also suggested that, while working mostly from home, Tedford has become involved in the Bucs game planning for the Carolina game, though he’s still not sure Tedford will call plays for that game.
“Jeff is involved in what we’re doing right now, having as much input pretty much as he would have if he was here,’’ Smith said. “But when he’ll be back here full time, I don’t know.
“We’re taking our time with him. Again, he’s getting better each day. We’ll see how that all plays out. In the meantime, the rest of our offensive staff will pick up for Jeff, similar to how we did it last week.’’
The Bucs leaned on quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo, an offensive coordinator and play caller at Southern Mississippi last year, to call the majority of the plays during their final preseason game last week against Washington.
Along with Tedford’s son Quinn, an offensive coaching assistant, and Matt Wiegand, their assistant offensive line coach, Arroyo is one of three Bucs coaches with first-hand knowledge of Tedford’s scheme.
All three of them have worked closely with Tedford – formerly the head coach at the University of California - and Smith said their presence has allowed the Bucs to continue making strides offensively despite Tedford’s absence.
“Of course Quinn and Marcus and Matt know a lot more about that offense, but it’s really our offense now and all of the coaches have really been there from Day One installing it with our players,’’ Smith said.
“Things have been going in as smoothly as they could with Jeff not being here, but I think you know that I’m not going to (say who will call plays if Tedford can’t). We’ll have our offensive staff handle it. That’s all I’ll say for now.’’