TAMPA — It’s early, yes, but a performance such as the one turned in by the Buccaneers’ offensive line during Friday’s preseason opener can still result in dire consequences for someone.
And so it is with OL Jamon Meredith.
Meredith spent most of the first two weeks of training camp playing guard with the first team and he started at right guard on Friday, but his days as a starting guard for this team might be over.
Though there is a chance he could return not only to the guard position but also to the starting lineup, Meredith’s job — at least for the foreseeable future — is to prepare for a season spent playing backup tackle.
“Jamon didn’t play as well as he needed to, so we’re going to let him concentrate a little bit more at the tackle position and give that next group of guards an opportunity,’’ Bucs coach Lovie Smith said.
At the head of that next group, at least for now, is Jace Daniels, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound first-year pro out of Northern Michigan who took all of the first-team reps at right guard on Sunday.
“In order to get to the first team … you have to do some good things at practice, and Jace has been doing that throughout, whether it be at center or guard,’’ Smith said.
Daniels, who is also rated as the backup center to Evan Dietrich-Smith, said he learned of his promotion not long before practice started, when his position coach told him to “go out there and show us you belong.’’
“There’s no doubt it’s a big opportunity,’’ Daniels said. “I definitely need to step up. And for my first time out there (with the first team), I felt good. Anytime you’re going against Gerald McCoy, it’s going to be a little different.’’
The Bucs also have been working Oniel Cousins and Patrick Omameh at right guard during camp. Smith said the experimentation at the guard positions will continue until the Bucs are satisfied with a candidate.
“Again, we’re just working different combinations right now, that’s all,’’ Smith said “Jamon didn’t play as well this game, so we’ll let him concentrate more on (the tackle) position. Nothing is etched in stone right now.’’
That includes leaving Cousins at left guard. Though Cousins admitted he struggled as much as any other lineman during the preseason opener, Smith said he thought he played well enough to keep his job for now.
“Oniel had some good plays throughout the game,’’ Smith said. “A lot of times you just assume everybody is playing bad every snap. But Oniel Cousins fights you hard. No one is game-ready right now, but we saw some things that we like from him.”
That one is on us
A day after Smith urged fans not to overreact to the porous play of the offensive line, Cousins echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“I would say don’t be discouraged,’’ Cousins said. “As a unit we put it on our shoulders. That game was on us, and we have to play better. And personally I put it on myself to play better.
“We just have to continue to chop wood and get better. Take it one day at a time, one play at a time, focus on the technique and get better.’’
Steady as he goes
CB Alterraun Verner has taken the most notable step yet in his attempt to come back from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him since the start of camp.
Though his participation in camp drills was limited to individual and positional work, Verner did put on the pads and return to the field Sunday.
“We’re just going to take it day-by-day,’’ Verner said. “I know they want to re-evaluate me (this) morning, and we’ll take it from there. There’s no real timetable yet. You’re always gearing up (to be back) for the season opener, but I definitely want to get back sooner.”
Rookie WR Mike Evans spent most of his time working outside of the numbers during his college days. He’ll work outside the numbers for the Bucs, too, but he won’t work there exclusively.
Evans spent a good part of Sunday’s workout lining up either in the slot or between the slot receiver and the wide receiver in a triple-wideout formation, and Smith says that could become commonplace.
“Most of the nickel backs (in this league are short), so it’s a pretty good matchup for a guy like Mike to be inside,’’ Smith said of the 6-foot-5 first-round draft pick out of Texas A&M.