TAMPA, Fla. - Head coach Lovie Smith said the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' starters will play into the second quarter of Saturday night's preseason game against the Miami Dolphins at Raymond James Stadium.
Both teams are coming off losses in their preseason openers, and Smith is seeking steady improvement as the Bucs break camp this week.
"I feel like we've had a good camp, we realize what's at stake this week; we want to play a lot better," he said. "Anytime you open up the season, regular season, preseason or whatever, anytime you get a chance to start off in front of your fans at home, it's kind of special."
A large focus will be paid to the offensive line, which struggled mightily against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week.
"We're more comfortable going into the Dolphins game right now, but you have to play the game," Smith said. "We have a combination that we're going to use; I've talked about giving guys an opportunity to show us what they have, so we'll follow that same script. We realize that we need to get the five guys working together as soon as we can, but we're going to go through the process as I've said also."
Smith doesn't want to place too much emphasis on preseason performance, but the team understands that with so much turnover - from the new coaching staff to personnel - that heightened expectations and excitement from the fans could be quickly dampened without steady improvement on the field.
"New regime, new uniforms, new logo, new everything. All we have of what people think about the Bucs is from game one (of the preseason)," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "So we know we have to come out better, we have to come out and start a lot faster, and give the hometown fans something to hope for.
"All people want is hope. You don't have to win the Super Bowl on Saturday - people just want hope, and we want to be able to give them that."
--The Bucs are expected to have their full secondary intact for the first time this preseason with cornerback Alterraun Verner recovered from a hamstring injury and safety Dashon Goldson returning to action following offseason foot surgery. Smith is eager to see Goldson line up next to 2013 first-round pick Mark Barron.
"Dashon Goldson has done a lot of things, it's a little different of course playing in the game, and I know he's excited about playing," Smith said. "As much as anything it's about getting the group together when you're healthy and of course we want to get them in. I've been very impressed with his football knowledge and right now that's all we've been able to do is talk ball and see a little bit of what he can do in practice."
Goldson admitted to being anxious to see his first game action since December.
"At the same time, I'm trying to control those emotions," he said. "First preseason (action), I'm excited about it."