Lovie Smith preaching patience

TAMPA, Fla. -- If it’s possible to be playful and testy at the same time, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith pulled it off Tuesday.

While keeping a smile most of the time, Smith sternly gave the same message repeatedly. He was preaching the importance of being patient.

There’s not a lot of patience in Tampa Bay these days. Fans and media are talking about Tampa Bay’s situation at guard. The Bucs have been rotating four players at the two positions, and rookie Kadeem Edwards and Patrick Omameh got the first-team work Tuesday.

Smith said the competition is a process.

“It’s part of the plan to give everybody an opportunity," Smith said. “There aren’t a lot of hard decisions in the end. If you let everybody play, they kind of tell you what they are. We’ll keep looking at different combinations and see who comes out on top.

"It doesn’t have to be tomorrow or the next day. We have to be ready for Carolina (in the regular-season opener) and we have a little bit of time for that. Most of you want us to have everything in place the first preseason game. It doesn’t happen like that. Be patient. We’re going to look at some different combinations. We’re not going to get fined if we don’t name the starting guards tomorrow. This is our plan that we have in place. We’re going to let the guys compete on the field, and once someone shows us they’re ready for that I’ll let you know."

The angst isn’t just about the situation at guard. Some fans seem ready to hit the panic button after a 16-10 loss to Jacksonville in the preseason opener, as the Bucs didn’t look very sharp. They host the Miami Dolphins on Saturday night, and Smith asked for patience once more.

“The second preseason game, the product won’t be finished," Smith said. “Those things come in time. It will happen. People just have to learn to be patient. (The media) and everyone else and our players need to show a little patience and it will come."

Smith's point about patience makes sense. Preseason results don’t mean anything and position battles can take time to play out. But it sure would be good for the mood of Tampa Bay’s fans if the offensive line turns in a better performance against Miami.