D-Line Appears to Have an Early Advantage Over O-Line
Observations by the staff at PewterReport.com have the team’s new defensive coaches, Keith Millard and Grady Stretz, making an early impact on the Buccaneers' very young defensive line. After three practice sessions, the D-line has won many of the individual battles against the offense. Things may change as the pads come on Monday, but so far it appears the offensive line is missing Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood, who can’t participate until August 4 due to a rule in the collective bargaining agreement regarding free agents.
“Well, I don’t know if [the offensive line] likes it right now,” Bucs head coach Raheem Morris said. “It gets a little heated and sometime I’m a referee. It’s cool. It’s alright. It’s part of the learning curve in the NFL. I got Da’Quan Bowers with this 'log' on his shoulder you guys keep telling me about. I got Adrian Clayborn on the other side who is just angry for no reason at all. Gerald McCoy, you guys (the media) told him he was terrible and he got better then he got hurt. [Brian] Price is coming back off the injury. So these guys have got a lot to prove; now they are dealing with their coaches. You got Kyle Moore coming off an injury, and really didn’t have as productive a season as he would have liked to. So I have a bunch of guys up-front, highly motivated just trying to get the best out of themselves.”
Bowers' Stance Already Earning A Nickname
In a playful mood after the Buccaneers' second day of training camp, Morris addressed Bowers’ unusual pre-snap stance.
“The crouching tiger?” Morris said. “I don’t know [how to describe that], I know it looks pretty. He gets off the ball, he comes off and is very explosive. I can’t wait to see him in pads. Once you get them in pads and get him to use that big body and move around [it's going to be fun].”
Stocker On Crutches Saturday
Rookie tight end Luke Stocker was spotted on crutches at the start of the Buccaneers afternoon practice Saturday, and told PewterReport.com editor Charlie Campbell it was a hip injury he suffered during practice Friday. Morris is still waiting for more of a definitive answer from his training staff, but said the former Tennessee star will miss some practice time.
“He will be out a couple weeks, week-to-week, I’m not really sure,” Morris said. “We look forward to getting him back. Lots of precautionary stuff when you talk about things of that nature. I’ll let Todd [Toriscelli] fill me in a little bit more when I talk to him. I haven’t talked to the doctors yet about that but I did talk to him this morning about that. I get updates continuously and I’ll kind of give you things of that nature.”
Winslow The Perfectionist
Even after making several crowd pleasing catches in Saturday’s fan friendly practice, tight end Kellen Winslow wasn’t pleased with his performance. Morris said that is nothing new from his star tight end.
“He caught a lot of balls, but that is Kellen Winslow,” Morris said. “Kellen is never satisfied. Kellen came to me in Week Two last year [saying] I can do more. Excuse me, it was Week Three after the big Carolina game. Ok, [so]do more. (Laughs) He is just critical of himself. He is critical of his game. He’s always coming to me asking what do I see in his routes, what do I see in his practice habits, is his tempo at practice getting better? He takes his playbook in the whirlpool. He is just one of those guys. He is just always going to be critical. He is very demanding of himself. He has high expectations and that’s what makes him a great player.”
Blount’s Role Not Completely Defined, According To Morris
The general consensus from the media and fans of the Buccaneers was second-year running back LeGarrette Blount would be an every down back after having an extra year to get familiar with the Buccaneers’ playbook. Morris agreed Blount needs to improve certain aspects of his game, however offensive coordinator Greg Olson and Morris have yet to determine exactly how the game plan will affect personnel.
“I don’t know if I am looking for an every-down back,” Morris said. “I kind of like the way we do [things], spread the ball around, and do different things with different people. I think that is a strength of our coaching staff. LaGarrette definitely wants to do that, wants to strive to be that every-down, every-play back. Just like everyone else on our football team. He is doing a nice job picking up his role; he is doing a nice job of doing whatever it takes to help his team.”
Morris also commented on Blount’s knowledge of the offense and blitz packages.
“He knows them,” Morris said. “It’s just about what his team role will be, how it will be defined. Lot of times you want to take guys out to get them healthy for their plays, for what you want to do as a team. I’m pretty confident. We don’t limit him in practice. We don’t limit him in games. [If] he is out there he is out there. I’m pretty comfortable with where he is going, and he is growing. As a second-year player. Of course he didn’t have it all. But he had a great leader in Josh Freeman talking to him every day. Which I see and laugh at all the time when I see them talking. He has great coaches.”
Return of Cadillac Not Ruled Out
A local media outlet tweeted Saturday the Buccaneers and the agent for Cadillac Williams were planning to meet that evening to discuss a contract for the veteran running back. Morris didn’t specifically address the meeting, but like the Barrett Ruud situation, Morris spoke highly of Williams.
“There is interest still in a lot of our guys,” Morris said. “I touched on it the first day how free agency jumped on you so quickly and having to make quick fast decisions. You are talking about Cadillac, one of our leaders for us last year. I know his quarterback really likes him. We like him in our building. We will just have to see. I don’t want to put [General manager] Mark [Dominik] into a corner. That’s not my job. My job is to coach in the seats as you guys know. And I got a new one there today in Allen Bradford so I look forward to coaching him up a little bit.”
Huggins Done With Bucs?
Former running back Kareem Huggins, who was an exclusive rights free agent, was not tendered an offer from the Buccaneers as of Saturday afternoon, and it appears the former Hofstra star may not be in the team’s future. Morris, one of Huggins' biggest fans, commented on the situation.
“I don’t want to say we have moved on from anybody – not in this profession,” Morris said. “Guys come back, fight to a healthy position and get on the football team to play. We don’t ever want to rule anybody out. I know he is not on our football team right now. That would be a Mark [Dominik] question.”
A Coach's Dream
There weren’t enough adjectives to describe Morris’ admiration for Freeman on Saturday afternoon. Looking even sharper than where he left off last year, the Bucs' 2009 first-round pick has impressed all those who have seen his performance thus far in training camp.
“He is awesome. I love Free. I don’t even know what to say,” Morris said. “He is [very sharp], he is working his craft. He is working on his discipline. He is working on improving his package as far what he wants to do, how much he can do on his own as far as that nature. He and [Olson] have a great communication system, being together and talking to each other, working on different things together. Sometimes you have to be smart enough to step back and let them do their thing, and we are doing that with him right now a little bit.”
Morris answered a reporter’s question about if Freeman’s organization of team workouts during the lockout was a sign of his development.
“I don’t know if it attributed to it,” Morris said. “[But it] certainly was a chance for him to practice it. When we drafted him we knew he was going to be a pretty good leader. He is proving us right, right now. I’m loving watching his development; I’m loving watching his communication with other guys. Him and Kellen, they started developing it already, but it is getting better with Mike Williams and all those guys. He is starting to call out plays for guys. He has a nice feel right now. He is improving every day.”
Slow Start Nothing New For Watson
After being observed getting an earful from Morris as practice began Saturday, Morris said it’s all part of strongside linebacker Dekoda Watson’s normal practice pattern.
“I always get on to Dekoda [Watson],’’ Morris said. “It’s kind of a ritual. If you get there early enough you’ll see me yell at Dekoda for a little while then he gets into a groove and goes right into practice mode. Dekoda is just one of those guys that is so detail-oriented he kind of paralyzes with an analyzation. I yell at him and get the analyzation out of him, and he gets going and practices pretty good. He is very talented. I love Dekoda.”
Morris a Fan of Ahmad Black’s Gators Career
Morris spoke in his Saturday afternoon press conference about 2011 fifth-round draft pick Ahmad Black, his college career, and what he expects the rookie safety to bring the Buccaneers defense.
“Yeah, I did [follow his college career],” Morris said. “He was fun to watch. Watching him go out there and struggle a little bit to pick it up, then do some really good things. He fit right into what we like right from the beginning. I was the happiest guy in the world when he ran a bad time at the combine. I knew we would have a chance to get him. He has come here and he has that Cody Grimm-type attitude where he is just a playmaker, where he makes plays and hopefully his best part will show when he puts on pads. He likes to hit, he is picking up the defense we are putting him in that Rosetta Stone of coaching that we talk about and hopefully in a couple days he will start to show up a little bit.”
Assessment Of McCoy’s Rookie Season
Rounding out Saturday’s press conference Morris dismissed the teams shuffling of Gerald McCoy from a 4-3 DT to a 3-4 DE in certain situations as a reason for the slow start of the former Sooners' rookie season.
“I know when you are McCoy and you don’t have the success, and you have to read every day that you aren’t doing as good as you should, you look for anything to talk about (laughs),” Morris said. “But there is something to be said about putting him in one spot that he can go for a little bit. And he is in a position to do that right now. “