TAMPA — As the losses piled up one after another during the first half of the season, so too did reports claiming Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano had lost the locker room.
Now, in the wake of the Bucs’ fourth win in five games, comes word to suggest that what Schiano did during his team’s eight-game losing streak was win over the locker room.
Echoing sentiments expressed earlier in the year by right guard/offensive captain Davin Joseph, LB Lavonte David said Schiano’s unwavering belief in his system and the message he was delivering emboldened the team.
“He stayed the same through all of that and we took note of that,’’ David said Wednesday. “When you see your leader not folding under pressure, it just does something to you. It makes you want to work even harder for that guy. When you see your leader putting everything on his shoulders, not blaming anyone, saying everything was on him, we just tried to do our best and turn everything around and now we have.”
Schiano’s unwavering approach during a tough time is nothing new to WR Tiquan Underwood. He said that during his senior year under Schiano at Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights started out 1-5 but then rallied to finish 8-5.
“I’ve been through this before and he just never wavers, no matter what, and neither did this team,’’ Underwood said. “The approach is always the same and it’s always about studying, executing and playing for each other and being accountable.’’
Bits and pieces
The Bucs had to piece together an offensive line to get through practice on Wednesday, when Joseph (knee/shoulder) and C Jeremy Zuttah (shoulder) sat with injuries.
Ted Larsen, who replaced Zuttah after he went down against Buffalo, was in at center, while former Chicago Bears first-round pick Gabe Carimi stepped in at right guard.
The Bucs also may have to piece together a receiving corps for Sunday’s game. Vincent Jackson, the team’s leading pass catcher, missed Wednesday’s practice with the same sore hamstring that limited him all of last week.
Meanwhile, DE Da’Quan Bowers sat out with a sore knee, but DE William Gholston was full go after suffering a concussion during Sunday’s game. Schiano said Gholston will have to go through the league’s concussion protocol each day of the week, including Sunday, before being cleared to play.
Back to the drawing board
The Bucs have struggled to produce points in the second half and particularly in the third quarter this season, and that issue became magnified Sunday when Tampa Bay produced just 28 second-half yards on offense.
“We are going to try to do some things that hopefully we’ll have a better opportunity to move the ball against these guys,’’ said Schiano, whose club has scored just 27 third-quarter and 70 second-half points.
“Of course, everything looks good on the white board. There are P’s and R’s and B’s, but when human beings have to do it, it changes a little bit.”