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Bucs notes: Offense focuses on first down

By Roy Cummings
Published: September 12, 2013 Updated: September 12, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Doug Martin and the Bucs offense struggled on first downs against the Jets. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

TAMPA — Meanwhile, back on the practice fields, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were busy trying to make corrections to an offensive attack that struggled to get out of low gear Sunday against the Jets.

The focus Thursday was improving on first down, where the Bucs ran 23 plays against the Jets but gained 53 total yards and averaged 2.3 yards, both league lows.

The Bucs didn’t do much on second down, because seven of the 16 third-down plays they faced were seven yards or longer and four were 12 yards or longer.

Any football coach will tell you it’s hard to make first downs and keep possession of the ball when you’re consistently facing third-down situations such as those, and that was Bucs coach Greg Schiano’s message on Thursday.

“We need to get into a flow and quit shooting ourselves in the foot, because I don’t care who you are, it’s awfully hard to play quarterback when (you have four) third-and-12 or plusses,’’ Schiano said.

“That’s very hard to do, and it happens because first and second down something goes wrong, whether it’s a penalty, a (tackle for loss) or a negative play. We need to just get into a flow and run our stuff and run it efficiently.’’

The Bucs will attempt to make those improvements this week against a defense concocted by Rob Ryan, the twin brother of Jets coach and defensive architect Rex Ryan. That won’t make the job any easier, Schiano said.

“You take a Rob Ryan coached defense and he presents a lot of issues,’’ Schiano said. “Schematically, there are things that can really get you. So, you have to be on point to be efficient. But I believe we’re going to do that.’’

Where ever I hang my hat

As much as LG Carl Nicks would like to play against his old team this week, the chances seem slim. Nicks was limited at practice again on Thursday in his return from a MRSA infection, which means Gabe Carimi is likely to start for a second straight week.

Carimi, however, remains a bit of a novice at the spot. The 2010 Outland Trophy winner played left tackle for the University of Wisconsin and right tackle and right guard for the Chicago Bears the past two years. He’s learning left guard on the fly.

“There’s definitely an adjustment to make, but you learn a lot and pick up different things every day,’’ Carimi said of the transition. “I think I’m learning it all pretty well, so you just have to keep going and keep rolling with it.’’

Carimi appeared to be set as the Bears right tackle for years to come after they used a 2011 first-round draft pick on him. He’s been on the move ever since, though. Despite playing three positions in two years, he doesn’t seem to mind the nomad life.

“Going where I’m needed is good with me,’’ he said.

Nerves of steel

Bucs rookie CB Johnthan Banks has received good advice from veteran DBs Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson. The best advice he’s heard so far, though, might have come from second-year S Mark Barron.

As he took the field for his first NFL regular-season game last week, Banks said he kept in mind a tip that Barron gave him.

“Mark tells me all the time, ‘It’s just football, don’t worry about it,’ ’’ Banks said. “And he’s right, it’s just football. So, I wasn’t nervous going out there for my first game. I wasn’t nervous at all.’’

Working mostly as an outside corner in nickel situations, Banks made three tackles. The work he gets in practice every day against WRs Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams helped ease his nerves, as well.

“That helps a lot, because V-Jack is big and strong and fast and Mike is a really good athlete,’’ Banks said. “So, you have a little bit of both with those guys and they can get a guy prepared for anybody.’’

Roy Cummings