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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' staff works to make up for lost time

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 03:42 PM
INDIANAPOLIS -

There is no break in the action for the Buccaneers at the NFL Scouting Combine.

When their scouts and coaches aren't watching prospect workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium or interviewing potential draftees at the team's Conrad Hotel headquarters, they're sneaking peaks at film of draft prospects, free agents and players already on the Bucs roster.

It's not like they have much choice.

Coach Greg Schiano's still-incomplete month-long search for a staff of assistants has left the Bucs a few steps behind their rivals in an evaluation process that is usually complete by now. They're finding ways to make up the lost ground, though.

"Whenever there's a lull, we've got tape going, and the scouts are there asking the coaches, 'Why do you like this guy? What is it about this guy that you like? Things like that,'' general manager Mark Dominik said.

"What we're trying to do is learn (as scouts) what (the coaching staff) likes in a football player, what traits they want, so that (we draft and sign players) that fit the mold of the Buccaneer Way.''

The Buccaneer Way is Schiano's catch-phrase for how things will be done under his rule. It extends to the specific kind of player he and his coaches want at every position, which is why the Bucs are grinding.

Every change in a head coach brings a new set of directives for a team's scouts, who are charged with finding players that fit the new specifications laid out for each position group.

In the case of Schiano and his staff, which still lacks a quarterbacks coach and a couple of low-level assistants, the ideal player isn't dramatically different than those the Bucs have had in the past, but there are differences.

"Do I think Greg Schiano would want to draft (defensive end) Adrian Clayborn? Yes, 100 percent,'' Dominik said. "So we're still kind of doing the same thing (along the defensive line).

"But we're learning from Coach Schiano, what's the perfect corner for you? What's the perfect safety? How do you like your linebackers to look? What do you ask them to do? What can our guys do? What don't we have?

"And the thing that we're learning as a scouting staff from (offensive coordinator) Mike Sullivan is, what do his guards look like? What do his receiver look like? What's the perfect tight end?''

One position group that is almost certain to look different under Schiano is the linebackers. The differences won't be dramatic, Dominik said, but fans with a keen eye will notice the subtleties.

"The will linebacker, for example, doesn't have to be 6-foot, 225 pounds anymore,'' Dominik said, "He could be 6-2 or 6-3 and 245 pounds. Coach Schiano is open a little more to that type.''

Mason Foster, a second-year pro who spent all of his rookie season playing middle linebacker, is that type. He stood 6-1 and weighed 245 pounds last year, so there's a chance he could change positions under Schiano.

"Mason is a guy that could move,'' Dominik said of a scenario that appears to be gaining steam in the Bucs camp. "But no has made that decision yet, and I think Mason will have a chance to show what he can do (at middle linebacker).

"He'll get an opportunity there. We have to see how everything plays out. Remember, we put a lot on Mason's shoulders last year by (having him call plays for the defense).

"That's a lot of responsibility and there were times when Mason didn't play so well and (he definitely) played slower at the end of the season. But there was a lot going on there for a young guy and I'm sure he gained a lot of experience by doing it.''

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