Make no mistake about it: losing Logan Mankins dealt a significant blow to the Bucs' depth at center. However, in his departure an important leadership void has been left for some of the newer players to fulfill. Veteran center Joe Hawley and the rest of the offensive linemen are all ready to embrace their new roles in keeping the offense fluidized. After Friday'straining camp, Hawley spoke to media members about who will lead the o-line, as well as the absence of Mankins.
"We all kind of just lead by example and come out here and work hard," Hawley said. "You can't replace Logan (Mankins), he's so great to be around and has such good energy, so we're all just trying to pick up the slack and come out here, have fun and get better each day."
Hawley's role will definitely expand due to Mankins' retirement, as he moves into the Buccaneers' starting center position. Entering his seventh NFL season, Hawley has an abundance of desirable experience, and being able to learn from a guy who Bill Belichick said was the best guard he has ever coached for pretty much the entirety of last year is just more positive fuel to the fire.
While Hawley plans to step up to the plate and lead the line, it's important that the rest of the guys act as leaders in their own respective ways. Leading by example on and off the field is something he said the offensive linemen are striving to do for each other, and with that comes solid accountability. If players aren't pulling their weight or striving for nothing short of winning, the locker room needs to address it, and I don't think anyone on this team is afraid to do that.
Players saw the exemplary man and athlete that Mankins was during his relatively short time in Tampa, and Joe Hawley can continue on that same standard for the rookies and veterans alike to model. Living up to the legacy of Mankins is no doubt a difficult proposition, but I believe the Bucs have the depth and mentality across the board to get it done, starting with him.