TAMPA, Fla. -- Chances are, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be starting two rookies and a recently-signed journeyman on their offensive line when they open the season against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
But offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter was putting a positive spin on that Wednesday. Koetter said he’s not looking at the line as a problem.
“When you’re looking at it from a coach’s standpoint, we never look at it like that," Koetter said. “Your guys are your guys. They’re like your kids, right? Your kids get in trouble sometimes. They’re still your kids. Your kid isn’t the starting quarterback or he isn’t first chair on the tuba, that’s still your kid. The linemen we’ve got, those are the linemen we’ve got. Shoot, I think they’re all five going to the Pro Bowl."
Rookie Donovan Smith is expected to start at left tackle and rookie Ali Marpet is likely to get the nod at right guard. The Bucs have known for months that they probably would play two rookies on a line that gave up 52 sacks last year.
But they have had some turnover at a position they were expecting to be strong. Right tackle Demar Dotson will miss the first half of the season with a sprained knee. Veteran Gosder Cherilus was brought in to replace Dotson and has had very little playing time with the first offensive line. But Koetter said he has confidence in the line the Bucs will put on the field Sunday.
“It doesn’t do you any good as a coach to lament over what we do and we don’t have,’’ Koetter said. “A coach’s job at every position is to take the guys we’ve got and figure out how to give us a chance to win on Sunday."