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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Lovie Smith evaluating roster, ready to meet players

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Published:   |   Updated: January 31, 2014 at 03:43 PM

TAMPA — Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith will watch the Super Bowl from a seat in his office at One Buc Place, where he has been spending all of his days and a good part of his nights evaluating the team he recently inherited.

“These are not 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. days for us right now,’’ Smith joked after he greeted a group of Tampa area elementary school students who were awarded with a tour of One Buc Place for excelling in the team’s “Reading Challenge.’’

Smith said he and his staff are working long hours in an attempt to evaluate the roster and set a course for offseason acquisitions. But the Bucs coaches are not the only members of the team working hard right now.

Beleaguered Pro Bowl left guard Carl Nicks is one of several players recovering from season ending injuries who is working out daily at the Bucs facility in an effort to return to the field.

“I’ve had a chance to talk with Carl and I’ll just say that he’s excited about the coming season and his rehab is going well,’’ Smith said of Nicks, who has missed all but nine games the last two years because of a lingering left foot problem.

“Carl is one of the guys who’s been through here daily, getting ready to go. He’s been a dominant football player for a while and we have to get him back out on the football field and that’s what we’re trying to do.’’

Smith said it is still too soon to know when Nicks will be ready to return to the field and begin working with the team, but he does know when the team will assemble as one for the first time under his charge.

The Bucs offseason workout program is slated to start on April 7 with the first minicamp scheduled for April 21. By then Smith hopes to have met all of his new players and to have their projected roles laid out for them.

“First it was about getting the staff together and getting our general manager, Jason Licht, in place,’’ Smith said. “But now I want to meet with as many of our players as possible and let them know what their role will be.’’

One player’s role has already been established. Smith has invited former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher to training camp to work with the team for a few days, and Urlacher may not be the only guest coach Smith brings to Tampa.

“I have had the privilege of being around a lot of great players and any great player that I’ve been around is always welcome wherever I am,’’ Smith said. “We’re trying to build something here and so I’m going to call on the Brian Urlachers of the world to help us.

“Derrick Brooks will tell you that I’ve been in his ear quite a bit and I had a chance to catch John Lynch yesterday and I had a chance to coach (former Cardinals and Rams cornerback) Aeneas Williams in St. Louis, too.

“Those are all guys that are (eligible for the) Hall of Fame (this year) and any time you can have guys like that around your current roster that have been through our system, it’s a good thing.’’

Progress is a good thing, too, and Smith said he and his staff are making that in their endeavor to evaluate their team and decide what areas are solid and which will need to be addressed through free agency and the draft.

“We have the combine coming up (near the end of February) and then free agency (in the middle of March), so it’s kind of non stop from here, but we’ve embraced the challenge and it’s full speed ahead,’’ Smith said.

rcummings@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7979

Twitter: @RcummingsTBO

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