TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – “If you have a bad line, it’s hard to win. You can’t run the ball, you can’t throw it,” laments veteran Buccaneers guard Logan Mankins. “Whenever you see a team lose, they blame the o-line a lot of times. If they win, they give all the credit to the quarterback. That’s how it is.”
Mankins knows it’s a Jameis Winston world, and we’re all just living in it. If the Buccaneers new starting quarterback intends on staying upright this season, he will likely be relying on at least one rookie offensive lineman to keep Jameis’ #3 jersey clean.
6’4”, 307-lb. guard Ali Marpet looks like the man for the job. Marpet, who played college football at Division III Hobart College, is competing with Kadeem Edwards and Garrett Gilkey for the starting job at right guard.
“The biggest difference is the quickness,” explains Marpet when asked how his college experience compares to the NFL. “The strength I’ve been able to handle. Everything is just so quick. The game is sped up.”
Marpet took starting snaps with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers first-team offense at training camp on Thursday and Friday. His progression has been accelerated by having to compete head-to-head with one of the best defensive linemen in the world.
“For Ali, there is no better place for him. I mean, Gerald McCoy is on the other side. So he’s having to get up to pace really quick,” said head coach Lovie Smith with a smile.
“You can’t squander those reps against Gerald. You have to make the most of it,” said Marpet. “He corrects some things. There’s a lot of things, technically, that I need to clean up. Sometimes my base gets a little bit wide and he has told me to shorten that up a little bit. He has been encouraging, and even though we’re competing, he’s still helping me out, which is awesome to have.”
Marpet is also receiving a helping hand from his roommate at training camp- fellow second round pick (and fellow offensive lineman) Donovan Smith.
“It’s nice to have another rookie offensive lineman going through the same stuff… Struggling through the playbook like I am,” said Marpet, just before carrying two teammates’ shoulder pads off the field after practice. “We’ll have meetings until 10, but we’re both going to pass out at about 10:30… Then wake up and do it again.”