Liedtke Handled Tough Task

August 28th, 2018

New left tackle?

A quick glance at Mike Liedtke’s locker demonstrates how far down the totem pole he is with the Bucs.

Or maybe, was.

A guy Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said wasn’t one of the top four tackles on the team, Lietdke was pressed into a starting role at left tackle Friday night due to the rash of injuries that has virtually decimated the Bucs’ offensive line.

Donovan Smith has a strained knee. Demar Dotson is just getting back to 100 percent off knee surgery. Caleb Benenoch reportedly has a knee injury (he wore a brace in the locker room yesterday) and Cole Gardner has been out with an injury. Leonard Wester has been hurt for weeks and there are more.

That left Liedtke, from the football powerhouse of the Midwest known as Illinois State, to start against one of the better defensive ends in the game, Detroit’s Ziggy Ansah (12 sacks last season).

In the Bucs locker room at the Den of Depression, still with a new smell from the renovations over a year ago, the lockers are wooden with a deep finish. But with 90 guys on the preseason roster, extra lockers have to be brought in. Most are also wood.

All but one.

In what might be a scene out of “The Office,” there’s a metal auxiliary locker that sticks out from the wall, not in a neat row or a formation as the others. It sort of looks like someone took the side off of an old outdoor phone booth (remember those?) and converted it to a locker.

Think of an office where everyone has his own cubicle. But a new employee is hired and there is nowhere for him to sit. So the office manager comes up with some apparatus and a table set against a wall for a desk.

That would be Liedtke’s locker.

Worse, Liedtke’s locker is right next to the entrance to the shower. So if Liedtke’s auxiliary locker isn’t bad enough, while he sits at his locker, teammates and their junk walk right by his face constantly in and out of the shower.

Gives a guy motivation to shower up and get the hell out.

Or climb up the depth chart.

Liedtke did a fine job against the Lions, pressed into duty. Ansah was pretty much a non-factor.

“I wasn’t going to be scared because Ansah was across from me,” Liedtke told Joe after the game. “I was kind of excited for the opportunity. He made a Pro Bowl a couple of years ago. So, OK, let’s see what I’ve got.

“I just went out there and battled. We all did. We did some nice things I think.”

And the performance may have sealed a spot for Liedtke with the Bucs.

Liedtke has bounced around the league since 2015 with the Dolphins, Chiefs, Colts, Jets and Browns, but had never been active for a regular season game until last year in the Bucs’ season finale against New Orleans.

Liedtke has played every position along the offensive line except left tackle until recently. And the only reason he was pressed into duty — first in practice — was because of all the injuries.

“When I found out I was playing tackle after practicing at guard, I said, ‘Let’s do it,'” Liedtke said. “When Donovan left practice the other day I just happened to be the guy behind him. I filled [his spot] that day and the next day I was out with the ones.

“We didn’t really talk about it much [with Bucs coach Dirk Koetter or offensive line coach George Warhop]. We knew we were so depleted that they were like, ‘Mike, you’ve got to do this.’ So it was just one of those things.”

When Joe spoke with running back Peyton Barber after the game, he told Joe you would never have never known much of the starting offensive line was backups, led by Liedtke.

“That shows we have depth,” Barber said. And Liedtke’s confidence, “that gives us as runners confidence.”

America’s Quarterback, Pro Bowler Jameis Winston, thought so too. Jameis also told Joe that both Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet, who didn’t dress Friday night, were acting as assistant coaches always working Liedtke when he came to the sideline.

“Liedtke has played like three positions,” Jameis said. “That [demonstrates] the intensity they have in that offensive line room. Coach Warhop does a great job of getting those guys going and we are starting to develop a lot of leaders. [Smith and Marpet were] aways in their ears.”

Jameis agreed with Barber that confidence like Liedtke displayed is infectious for the offense.

“It starts with the front five man,” Jameis said. “And as long as they are rolling, we are rolling.”

Of course, any bubble guy would hope to latch on to an NFL team. The NFL lifestyle (and salary) sure beats replacing transformers. Liedtke has grown fond of the Bucs and the Tampa Bay area. He thinks he has demonstrated his versatility enough to play all five positions on the line. Liedke also knows how much Koetter covets a versatile offensive lineman who can quickly multitask.

“I love it here,” Liedtke said. “I just tried to show I have the versatility to play all five positions across the line which I don’t think many people can say. Wherever [the Bucs] need me to be, I will be.”

And if he does make the Bucs, his initial bonus will be a better locker in a better location than his current camp meat gameday home.

33 Responses to “Liedtke Handled Tough Task”

  1. Godeep66 Says:

    Great article Joe!!! This guy is a warrior that I would want on my team.

  2. Joe Says:

    Thanks Deep.

  3. donuts Says:

    I favor team guys and team culture. This could be the line of this off-season….superb quote “wherever the Bucs need me to be, I will be.”

    If I was Koetter, I would take advantage of that quote in the meeting room. It exemplifies the attitude needed to be a great team in the NFL.

  4. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I know we are frequently surprised by players who come out of nowhere…or bench jockeys like Barber who “suddenly” emerge as quality NFL players.

    We shouldn’t be so surprised!

    We live in the delusion that the best players are the ones who get the snaps. That is simply untrue. Many factors go into who plays and talent and production are not always the determinants.

    First and foremost is the organization’s investment in a player…draft pick #…salary…reputation…Coach’s favorites….they always talk a good game but ALL coaches suffer from this.

    And there is the players resume…E.G. Cameron Brate was overlooked for a long time by two different franchises. Coming from a football “powerhouse” like Harvard did not help Brate’s cause…as an UDFA teams had NO investment in him.

    If I wasn’t so lazy I’m sure I could find hundreds of players who were overlooked for quite awhile….Tom Brady being the 6th round draft pick is always mentioned but there are plenty of superstars in the NFL’s history who simply did not get the chance early on and when they did they made the most of it.

    I’ll not be surprised if Liedtke turns out to be a good player. I’m not going to be surprised if Barber has a breakout season….and again…can anybody here truly say they believe that Dougie deserved all those snaps ahead of Barber? Really?

    NO NFL coach truly gets all the best players on the field. They are victims of their own conservatism…see Chucky’s obsession with Veterans…they don’t want to give the unproven a genuine chance…they don’t wish to embarrass their GM’s who may have drafted a player in the first three rounds only to have an unknown beat them out.

    And there is the old looks like Tarzan plays like Jane. On paper…would you take/play Cameron Brate over ASJ who looked like a prototypical TE?

  5. NYC Bucs Fan Says:

    Good for him. A strong fabric of team is built from the bottom up.

  6. mark2001 Says:

    Fly former Redbird Mike, Fly. And for your detractors…just take a Redbird, in- their- hair dump as you fly far above them.

  7. Bird Says:

    It’s like the movie ” office space” where they put the guys desk in a closest

    The dangling junk description is hilarious

  8. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    In other news, Cameron Jordan records NFL record 8 sacks week 1 against the bucs

  9. thunderchunkyPA Says:

    If he has not earned a roster spot, Koetter and Licht are in deeper trouble then we imagined. Played damn well in a spot where he never played? Talk about value to a team.

  10. Owlykat Says:

    What a find! Licht certainly made a great call putting Liedke on this team. He is a keeper. He actually outplayed D. Smith. If he continues to do so until D. Smith comes back, retrain D. Smith to play LG and move Marpet back to RG, and if Dotson is 100 per cent, you will finally have a much improved Offensive Line that we have been seeking all this time. Then we should be opening real holes that Jones requires for him to run inside and we should have an Offense to put up plenty of points. Replace Smitty with Buckner who knows how to execute an aggressive defense, which is the opposite of an oft DB positioning and a complicated loosing zone defense, and we can rise to the top of our division!

  11. doolnutts Says:

    Dusthty Rhothdes — Not going to lie I laughed pretty good at that comment^^^

    In theory, there is nowhere for Liedtke to go but up. If he makes the team he might be able to improve and switch over to RT. DOT will not be here forever so him and Cappa might need to battle it out for RT.

  12. Wausa Says:

    A friend of mine in college was a backup in college that ended up getting drafted in the 9th round of the 1992 draft. After he had been in Minnesota for a year he told me that he knew he could play he just needed to get a chance. Eventually he got his chance in Minnesota, Washington and the Bucs. He was a player that just needed to get an opportunity and when he finally got it he made the most of it.

  13. AlabamaBucFan Says:

    If Liedtke, who was undrafted, from a college who is unknown for putting guys in the NFL and a guy who is only 6-3 (not ideal for a OT), performs just as good or better than Donovan Smith, then that should says something about smith. Perhaps the critics may be on to something. I guess we shall see as it is only pre-season.

  14. TOM Says:

    Way to go Mike. Keep it up. Should be one of the 53.

  15. Bucsfanman Says:

    Wow! Godeep with some positivity!!!
    I have to agree. I love the mindset. He has done well enough to make me feel slightly better about our situation. You can never have enough competent o-linemen.

  16. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Doolnuts, I hear ya, its just as a buc fan forever there has always been some guy that is a future hall of famer in pre-season, then????? and great points made above about if he is better than smith then what might that say about smith………wish ol jason gump would have picked up lael collins and laremy tunsil when he had the chance, sprinkle in d cook or d guice and this is the most dominant offense in pro football

  17. mark2001 Says:

    So we have found the Redbird “diamond in the rough”… once we find the Panther “diamond in the rough” we will be off and running.

  18. Dewey Selmon Says:

    Before we put him in the ROH i want to see him during the 3rd and 4th quarters when the opponent keeps rotating DL’s and he is fatigued and sucking air.

  19. m0j0 Says:

    They put him out there on a veteran DE and he had to handle him in space. That is about as tough a task as there is on the O Line. Kudos to him for showing he has the skills to play well there, as we really don’t have any depth behind Smith so I think his effort will help him make the team and help the coaches and QB sleep a little better at night.

  20. mark2001 Says:

    So Dewey…maybe we need to rotate him to keep him fresher. Admittedly not as great as having a 1st round draft pick stud at any line position. But better than not getting the job done and getting our QB planted into the ground.

  21. Broy34 Says:

    Dusty I’ve been a Bucs fan as long as you have but I still am not as negative as you. I think as long as we win one of the first three before the messiah comes back we will be fine. We are going to surprise people. That lions game was a beautiful display. First half is all that mattered. We were blitzing, playing up on receivers, had balance on offense. Special teams is improved. The saints just don’t scare me. They’re a good team but we can beat them. They can gameplay Kamara and not worry about both him and Ingram.

  22. Eric Says:

    Sounds a little like Rocky Balboa’s locker on “skid row” in the first movie.

  23. Dewey Selmon Says:

    Mark, you’re right, and keep a TE in to chip block.

  24. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Broy, i am glad that you can stay positive but i am sick of getting fired up for the season only to have crap out there, it is VIRTUALLY impossible for an NFL team to suck for this long, the NFL is setup to be cyclical, obviously with piss porr management and personnel moves it can be done, see Tampa & Cleveland…..i bet eagles under and browns over are my 2 bets before season, tampa is going to be a bet too, just not sold on the backend of the defense yet

  25. Buc1987 Says:

    SPBF…or just say Donald Penn.

  26. buc15 Says:

    And that’s how you make a team folks

  27. Ruggyup Says:

    There is no way to overstate just how great it it is to read a genuine feel good story from the Bucs locker room! Hey, the writer was ok as well.

  28. Brandon Says:

    Just for those that don’t know. Liedtke is extremely athletic and that is why he kept getting a shot in the pros. Yeah, Illinois St but he transferred down from Eastern Michigan, also not a powerhouse. But his vital stats are actually pretty impressive and that is why he’s here, because he is an excellent athlete.

    He’s actually 6’4, not 6’3… 6’3 and 3/4″ to be exact

    At his pro day he ran a 4.94 40, granted, linemen don’t run 40s but this is a good indicator of the type of athleticism he has.

    His vertical jump was 33″ which is excellent for any offensive lineman

    He benched 225 28 times which is a very good number for an offensive
    lineman. This doesn’t really tell you about his strength but it tells you that he has dedicated himself in the weight room. All NFL linemen can do 225 easily… but doing reps upwards of 20 or more tells that he is dedicated to his craft and his training. Muscle endurance can only be built in the gym, some people just have freakish strength, this guy has obviously worked.

  29. Blonde orsnge Says:

    Gotta love this kid Liedtke. Goes out and does his job, and does it well enough to finally get noticed. He should make a great addition to the 53. Joe, love the locker room story.

  30. Joe Says:

    Joe, love the locker room story.


  31. TampaTown Says:

    Great story! Really paints a picture 😂 Poor guy

  32. stpetebucsfan Says:


    Yep…I could have just said Donald Penn…same thing at the same position.

  33. Lucious Selmon Says:

    Dusthty Rhothdes Says:
    August 28th, 2018 at 8:34 am
    In other news, Cameron Jordan records NFL record 8 sacks week 1 against the bucs


    Makes me wonder how many fine NFL quality athletes just never get that lucky chance to shine. :>\

    Thanks for the great write-up, Joe! Made my night, and my night was already going swell!! [The blue wave hit a breakwater] =D