New location could mean new chemistry
By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 28, 2002
LAKE BUENA VISTA -- The accommodations are better at Disney's Wide World of Sports. But the Bucs will be deprived of one luxury they enjoyed during training camp at the University of Tampa.
They won't be coming home after work.
"I think the biggest change for us is guys were able to go home," general manager Rich McKay said. "The guys who have the wives, girlfriends or kids could come see them every night. In this one, they won't. We'll be off on the road, more on an island in a traditional training-camp setting. That will be different. I view it as positive, but it'll definitely be different. And it'll be interesting to see how our guys like that."
The Bucs are hoping the isolated environment will help build team chemistry. But it also could be a formula for spirited competition. There's arguably a battle at nearly every position on offense. Defensively, cornerback, middle linebacker and left end positions are undetermined.
"I think it'll be back to being competitive like Tony (Dungy's) first or second camp," McKay said. "At that point in time, everything was open, it was a new coaching staff and a new approach so there were a lot of battles for who was going to take over jobs. I think that's the same that will occur here on the offensive side of the ball in the sense that we've got a whole different approach.
"I think the offensive line will be very competitive and it'll be interesting to see how those battles play out. And to have an instance where the quarterback position where guys will get a lot of reps and a lot of opportunities, it will be different. But it's really different because you've changed coachings staffs, not because you've changed approaches."
WEARING OUT: At Camp Gruden, the Bucs will begin the first of 14 consecutive two-a-day workouts before their Aug. 12 preseason debut against the Dolphins.
After three minicamps and an exhaustive offseason, coach Jon Gruden said he is not concerned about overwork.
"I've studied the NFL carefully," Gruden said. "I know there's a hard-working coach up in Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Jaguars work hard. I think we all agree Jimmy Johnson worked the Miami Dolphins hard in South Florida. I'm not worried about that. I think the training-camp format we have is fair. We're not going to try to turn this into a conditioning contest or anything like that. We're going to just try to be creative, work on situational football, try to develop some skill and come together as a team. But I'm not worried about burning them out."
FAST START: The Bucs begin play in the NFC South Division with New Orleans, Carolina and Atlanta.
That means three of the Bucs' road trips will be less than two hours' travel by charter plane.
In fact, the toughest trip will come on the final day of the regular season: a Sunday night game Dec. 28 against the Bears at Champaign-Urbana.
"The schedule sets up so we don't have those three games on the road, we don't have any of those really tough mountains to climb," McKay said. "Other than somebody decided we should play at the end of the December at night in Chicago. Not even Chicago, it's Champaign after staying at a one-story Holiday Inn."
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