NFL rules prohibit coaches from chastising players who choose not to show up for voluntary work. But the rules say nothing about praising those who do.
On the first day of a voluntary minicamp, two weeks after the offseason program launched, new Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said that his new team has had perfect attendance in the offseason program, so far.
“Yes, everyone is here,” Smith said. “Everyone has been here all offseason really and that’s what you expect. It’s voluntary work, but if you want to get better, why would you pass up an opportunity? I appreciate that from the team — again they want to do something. All you can do at this time in April is just show up each day and get better and they’ve done that.”
The Bucs have a minicamp now because teams with new coaches are permitted to have an extra voluntary camp. Smith recognizes the value of that.
“I think it’s a must,” Smith said. “That’s the good part about being a new staff, when you get this extra minicamp in. It’s one thing to watch guys on video, but you want to see them on the football field to know in a lot of ways. Of course, we want to see our roster but, too, with the draft coming up, to see exactly what we need. Maybe we’re not as strong or maybe we’re a little scrawny at some of the positions. And that’s what they’ll tell us during these next two days.
“So I can’t tell you how much it helps. And, for the team, they’re wondering, ‘What is it like? What’s the practice routine? How are these guys going to coach?’ And they know that now. So we’ve gotten a lot of those questions answered quickly.”
We won’t get answers about whether the Buccaneers are any better until September, when the real games start.