The first game of an NFL team's preseason schedule usually means very little in the big picture.
In the case of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, however, Friday's exhibition opener against the Jaguars in Jacksonville carries extra weight because it marks the game-action debut for new head coach Lovie Smith.
"I think for us it's a whole new situation for everybody, it's a new system, new players and all of that," quarterback Josh McCown said Wednesday. "I think it's just going out and executing and being clean with things procedurally No. 1, I think you want to break the huddle and do the things that you normally do in a game and feel like the communication is clean and all of that. Execution-wise you want to be clean on that as best you can.
"In these games, you don't game-plan for people, and obviously you're not rolling out your best stuff, but within the rules and within the framework of your system, you want to try and execute it as best as possible -- that's the key for us Friday."
McCown was formerly the backup quarterback for the Bears, and Smith was his head coach in Chicago. When McCown signed a free agent deal with the Bucs in March, Smith immediately anointed him the starter, ahead of Mike Glennon, who made 13 starts as a rookie last year.
"Mike will have a role on our team," Smith said. "The backup quarterback plays an important (role). Not only that, Mike will also be our second holder. Little things like that that we'll ask him to do. But whatever we ask him to do, he'll do it well."
Smith said he plans to play his starters approximately one quarter on Friday.
"We're going to go over that with the players tonight and they'll know tomorrow exactly how much they'll play," Smith said Wednesday. "But for them, we're going to ask all the guys to stay in the game the entire time because you just never know."
McCown understands that he will be sharing time with Glennon in exhibition games.
"I think everybody, obviously it's preseason, but when you get out there you just want to keep playing because it's fun," McCown said. "Coach will dictate that, our job is to go out there and do what I just said execute, get good reps for us and then we'll go as long as coach tells us to."
McCown acknowledged the Buccaneers are eager to compete in a game setting.
"When you practice against the defense as much as we do, in training camp when teams do that, there's give-and-take and a back-and-forth and they've seen so many plays so many times and you've seen their defense so many times, there's this Jedi-mind game that's going on," he said. "It will be fun just lining up against a different opponent and just back to playing the defense that you see, working out your rules and things like that and not trying to outthink yourself when you're playing against somebody that sees you every day. I think we're all looking forward to that."