Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Goldson gives Bucs another willing mentor
The Buccaneers secondary is as old as it is young, as seasoned as it is raw. For every veteran Pro Bowler such as cornerback Darrelle Revis there is a kid who's still learning the ropes such as cornerback Leonard Johnson.
Veteran safety Dashon Goldson is trying to bridge the gap.
On Tuesday, after the Bucs wrapped up the eighth of their 10 organized offseason workouts, Goldson gathered Johnson and cornerback Danny Gorrer and spent an extra 15 minutes tutoring them on their coverage skills.
Revis eventually joined in, too, playing the role of quarterback while Goldson, Johnson and Gorrer tried to improve their ability to read a receiver's eyes with their backs to the quarterback.
It was a scene similar to those witnessed a year ago when wide receiver Vincent Jackson first came to the Bucs and immediately took the team's young wideouts under his wing. Goldson's efforts didn't go unnoticed by his new bosses.
The games haven't started yet but already the Bucs believe they are getting a return on the $41.25 million investment they made when they signed Goldson to a five-year contract during free agency in March.
“He keeps those two young corners out there just working and no one asked him to do that, and that's just what veterans need to do,” Bucs coach Greg Schiano said of Goldson.
“I mean, you start looking at our veterans here now, guys like Dashon, and we have some that I can lean on and I think the organization can lean on and you need that, so I'm glad he's ours. He cares a lot.”
Goldson cares mostly about winning. He was on the cusp of winning it all the past two years, reaching the NFC title game before losing in 2011 and the Super Bowl before losing there last season, both times with the 49ers.
He came to Tampa this spring thinking the Bucs may soon win it all but knowing there is still work to do, particularly in the secondary, where he hopes to fill the leadership void left by the retirement of Ronde Barber.
“That's just something that's always been in me,” Goldson said of taking on a leadership role. “I was always a motivating kind of guy. I always looked at myself as a guy who tried to lead out there.
“I mean, this is a young crowd that we have here, so I just want to share my experiences with them and show them my work ethic, show them that it's OK to ask questions and shed a little light on things.''
Jackson took the same approach a year ago and despite thinning ranks behind he and Mike Williams, the Bucs receiving corps became a strength. With Goldson's and even Revis' help, Johnson believes the secondary can do the same.
“We have young guys that are willing to learn,” Johnson said. “I mean, words can't even explain how I feel about what they're doing for us so I'm just trying to follow in their footsteps so I can have some of the success they've had.”
Bold prediction Predictions for the 2013 season are coming in and most have the Bucs producing yet another sub-.500 record and finishing at or near the bottom of the NFC South. Left tackle Donald Penn calls those predictions hogwash.
“We're about to shock a lot of people next year,'' Penn said recently. “We're going to do a lot of good things. We made some great moves this offseason and that's going to put us up a level.”
Penn said too much attention is being paid to what the Bucs have done in the past and too little is being paid to the changes that have been made since Schiano took over as coach a year ago.
“Our team is out here really working hard, and a lot of guys are getting better,” Penn said. “That's what we should be talking about because this team, we're about to do some big things.”
Second impressions When he first arrived here early last year, Schiano wasn't that impressed with middle linebacker Mason Foster. The second-year pro appeared to Schiano to be out of shape and maybe even a little soft.
Foster has been working diligently to erase that impression ever since and it appears as though he's succeeded.
“From Day One to now he has made a marked change in his body,'' Schiano said last week. “His cardiovascular condition (is better), he's bigger, he's stronger, and he certainly understands the defense much better.
“I think he's on a really good (trajectory). He's a guy that I'm excited about. I think he can have a promising career here and that's important because you want to have some consistency with your middle linebacker.''