By Leo Haggerty

Are you ready for some football?  It’s the end of July and it’s time for the 32 National Football League franchises to open training camp.

The Buccaneers opened today with an 8:45 am indoor workout due to the threat of inclement weather.  Welcome to Tampa in the summer.  The lightning capital of the world.

We will cover training camp with one-on-one interviews and a plethora of photo.  We hope you enjoy or verbal and pictorial collage.












LH : Is it 12 or 13 years now with Bucs?

DD : Come on.  Not that long.

LH : These offensive lineman are going to hammer you because some of them were in grade school when you started in Tampa Bay, right? 

DD : This is year ten.  You’re making me sound like I’m an old man here.

LH : How’s the wheel?

DD : It’s coming along.  It feels a whole lot better than what it was.  Just taking it one day at a time.

LH : You have to love the indoor facility.  You get some quality work in and you stay on schedule, right?

DD : I like it.  When you had those days that it rained or lightning, everything came to stop.  You have to warm up again but now weather isn’t a problem.  When you have bad weather days you can still get your work in.  Lots of benefits to having it.

LH : Moving Ali back to guard, is that a good move?

DD : Oh yes.  It’s his natural position especially with Ryan Jensen now coming in to player center.  Both of them are good players and it will help us get better on the offensive line.

LH : When we talked two or three years ago, the offensive line was a question mark.  Not any more, is it?

DD : Well, it’s always a question mark.  We really haven’t done anything that was special.  Plus, every year you have to go out and prove yourselves.  You want to get better from last year.  We can’t let people sack our quarterback.  We have to protect him and open holes for the running backs.  That’s our job up front.  We need to make that happen.  We just have to go out and prove it.

LH : You get three playoff teams right out of the gate and one of them, the Philadelphia Eagles, are the reigning Super Bowl champs. 

DD : We need to stop walking here.  You’re huffing and puffing and I think you need to catch your breath.

LH : Hey, I’m 65. You need to give me a break here. 

DD : I just don’t want you to fall out.

LH : Dot, I appreciate that.  Back to my question which is that the schedule makers did you no favors with the first three games, correct? 

DD :  Right off the bat we get to play three good teams.  No one is giving us a chance to win any of those.  We don’t want to hear that we have no chance.  We’re just going to have to work hard through training camp.  So, when the time comes, we need to prove these people wrong and show out.  Everybody is against us but talk isn’t going to win games anyway.  We just have to play like we’re capable of playing and that starts in training camp.

LH : There’s 90 guys in that room that believe you’re going to go 3-0, right?

DD : Without a doubt.


LH : Before we talk about the Bucs, I got to ask you about your alma mater.  Clemson has four defensive lineman, tackles Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence along with ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, that were all chosen preseason All Atlantic Coast Conference first team.  They may all go in the first round of the draft.  Have you ever seen that before?

BB : Not since the days of the Miami Hurricanes.  They had a great defensive line.  This is just a testament to what Dabo Swinney has done at Clemson.  He’s recruiting guys of that caliber and then they come in and play as a unit.  That’s great for Clemson but bad for their opponents.  That, again, is just a testament to the coaching and recruiting that’s going on at Clemson right now.

LH : Clemson has made three straight trips to the National Championship Final Four.  The Tigers are an elite program now, aren’t they?

BB : They really are.  When I was they we thought we were.  You got to consider that being at Clemson you are not in a major city.  Dabo has put it under the lights so it really shines.  Right now, when you talk about the two most prolific programs, it’s either Clemson or Alabama or Alabama or Clemson.  It’s a testament to what’s going on at Death Valley. They always play hard and now they’re in the same conversation with Ohio State, Southern Cal, Alabama and Michigan.  No doubt they can hold their own now with anybody.

LH : I talked with Coach Petersen out at Washington and he said that Vea isn’t just a 0 technique lineman but can play anywhere along the defensive front.  Are you just looking for him to be that 0 technique guy? 

BB : We don’t really play any 0 technique with our tackles.  We want Vita to be the best football player he can be.  Yes, he can be a 3 or 4 or 5 technique player.  He has that type of ability.  Now, my job as a coach, is to instruct him with the skills that will make him a dominant football player.  I don’t want to limit him to 0.  I want him to be the best football player he can be.  If we need him at the 5, then go out there and play the 5.  If we need him at the 3, go play the 3.  We know you can play the 0 but we want to make you an overall great football player in the NFL.

LH : Playing in Florida in the heat, you have to have some sort of rotation for your defensive line.  Are you looking at a rotation of 6 or 7 or more?

BB : Here’s how it will go.  How many guys I can get ready to play on game day, I’m going to play.  If Jason and Dirk have you on this team then they think you can help us win.  I want them to be a part of that.  If we come up with 8 guys that can play, then I’m going to play 8 guys.  I do not believe on players sitting on the sideline.  My mindset is that, when we get to the fourth quarter, I want every one of my players to be as fresh as possible.  I don’t want Gerald (McCoy) or JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) trying to grind it out in the fourth quarter.  I want to lower their snap counts so they have no reason not to go hard.

LH : I look at Gholston and, this year, he looks like a jaguar.  How much weight has he lost and was that to get quicker?

BB : I told him you never want to substitute speed for size.  You don’t have to be big to play big.  That’s the name of the game now.  You want to be able to run and make plays.  When they throw a short pass, we have to be running down the field.  Also, he’s progressing and maturing as a football player.  I told him that the older you get, the smaller you need to get.  As you get older, you lose a lot of speed so you don’t want to carry a lot of excess weight.  William got after it.  He looks good and I hope he benefits from this.

LH : At your first press conference after being appointed Buccaneers defensive line coach, I’m paraphrasing you a little bit here, you said that we may not win every game, but if you go into our opponent’s training room the next day, you will think we won.  Did that statement make your defensive lineman sit up and take notice?

BB : Yes it did.  It sent the message that we are going to play physical football.  We might not win every game, because there’s only been one team to go undefeated, but the guys on the other side are going to know they are in a fight.  That stadium that we play in over there is going to be a place where we fight you every play.  We are going to tell our fans that we are going to defend every blade of grass.  The only way I know how to play in the NFL on the D-line is to fight every play.  That will be our mentality.  When we go over there to play, that’s how we will play.