The arrival in January of Lovie Smith as the 10th head coach in Buccaneers history led to significant roster changes for 2014. All players — holdovers and plenty of new arrivals — are required to report to training camp today, with the first practice scheduled for Friday. To get you ready, we examine key issues for Smith's first training camp. Today, a look at five Bucs players with Pro Bowls on their résumés.
S Dashon Goldson
This two-time Pro Bowler with the 49ers is in the process of reinventing his game after one season with the Bucs. Goldson was fined nearly $500,000 last season for illegal hits, and the NFL's continuing emphasis on player safety has forced Goldson to adjust his angles to the football. With new coach Lovie Smith emphasizing takeaways, Tampa Bay is expecting more splash plays this fall from Goldson, who picked off only one pass in 13 starts last season.
WR Vincent Jackson
Jackson has provided the Bucs with solid return on their investment since he signed as a free agent from San Diego in 2012. He has topped the 1,000-yard mark in each of his two seasons with Tampa Bay, generating the big plays downfield he routinely displayed while earning three Pro Bowl berths with the Chargers. The addition of first-round pick Mike Evans, another big-bodied receiver, should draw some coverage away from Jackson, whose career average of 17.4 yards per reception leads all active players with at least 200 catches.
RB Doug Martin
After a sensational rookie year that culminated with a Pro Bowl spot, Martin endured a forgettable 2013 season. He was largely ineffective in September behind some shoddy blocking up front, then missed the final 10 games with a torn labrum. Martin has declared himself 100 percent healthy and is eager to regain the elusive form that marked him as the No. 3 player in the league in total yards from scrimmage. A stacked backfield makes it unlikely Martin will match his 2013 average of 20 carries per game.
DT Gerald McCoy
Only two years ago, the third overall pick in the 2010 draft entered camp as a major question mark, coming off two injury-marred seasons. But 32 starts and two Pro Bowl berths later, McCoy is being lauded by Smith as the NFL's premier interior lineman. McCoy posted 9.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss last year, and Tampa Bay's return to its Cover 2 roots could free McCoy up for even more disruption this fall — especially with the presence of free agent DE Michael Johnson off his right shoulder.
CB Alterraun Verner
Pouncing on a Pro Bowl corner on the opening day of free agency in March contributed to Tampa Bay's decision to release Darrelle Revis a day later. Verner has been termed a perfect fit for the zone scheme new defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will implement this fall. The Bucs somehow managed to sign the 25-year-old Verner to a favorable contract that included only $14 million in guaranteed money.