Bucs Training Camp: Highlights from Lovie Smith's Opening Press Conference

Luke Easterling@@LukeEasterlingCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2014

TAMPA, FL -  JANUARY 6:  Lovie Smith speaks as he is introduced as the new coach of Tampa Bay Buccaneers at a press conference January 6, 2014 at at the team training center in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reported for camp early this morning, new head coach Lovie Smith delivered his opening press conference to members of the local media.

The atmosphere in the room mirrored the same cautious optimism that has followed the Bucs throughout the offseason, as Smith and new general manager Jason Licht have executed a significant overhaul of a 4-12 team.

Smith's statements didn't pull the curtain back too much on what could be in store for Bucs fans this season, but there were a few nuggets worth noting.


Where We're Going, We Don't Need Ceilings

When asked what he considered to be the ceiling for the Bucs this season, Smith declined to define the team's projections in such a narrow fashion:

Smith knows he's inheriting a 4-12 team, and while there's plenty of excitement surrounding the additions the team has made in the offseason, it's tough to put a particular set of expectations on a team that's undergone such an overhaul.

Developing chemistry quickly will be key for the Bucs if they want to validate the optimism surrounding the moves they've made in free agency and the draft.


May I Be Excused?

Smith revealed that guard Carl Nicks, despite being medically cleared earlier this week, had been excused from camp's opening day due to personal reasons:

Despite multiple attempts by reporters to dig a little deeper into the situation, Smith wouldn't divulge any additional details regarding the reasons for Nicks' absence, except to state that the former Pro Bowler was only excused for today.

We'll have to wait and see if Nicks reports to camp tomorrow before speculating any further, but this can't be seen as a good sign.


Healthy Safeties

Although Nicks' injury and absence may still be a concern, Smith was happy to report that a pair of key defenders who missed all offseason workouts will be ready to roll:

The ability of Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron to be healthy and comfortable in this new defensive scheme will be vital to the entire unit's success. Both have the talent to excel in their roles, and they'll surely be chomping to hit the field and get valuable reps starting this weekend.


The King of Pop

When it comes to the overreaching message Smith has for his team heading into camp, the Bucs' new head man channeled his affinity for Michael Jackson:

Smith is clearly committed to the minute details and processes that go into building a successful team, and it all starts within each individual player. It's as cliche as it gets, but each player will need to focus on executing his own role and meeting his own expectations in order for the team to reach its full potential.