What interesting things happened during the second day of Bucs rookie mini-camp? Which players stood out for their good plays? Which draft pick really struggled in 1-on-1 pass rush drills? Find out in this Pewter Report article.
The second and final day of Tampa Bay’s 2013 rookie mini-camp took place Saturday afternoon at One Buccaneer Place under sunny skies and mild temperatures in the 80s. The rookies donned helmets, shorts and jerseys for the two-hour practice, which was rather crisp and featured a couple of interesting highlights and lowlights on the defensive side.
As was the case on Friday, the 2013 Buccaneers draft picks were often pulled to the side and worked almost in a one-on-one fashion with their position coaches. Cornerback Johnthan Banks, who was Tampa Bay’s second-round pick, worked with new cornerbacks coach Tony Oden along with Rashaan Melvin, an undrafted free agent from Northern Illinois. Those two spent a good deal of time working on press coverage techniques at the line of scrimmage with each other.
Defensive line coach Randy Melvin worked with nose tackle Akeem Spence, the team’s first fourth-round pick, in addition to two try-out defensive tackles Andre Neblett and J’Vonne Parker. The three players rotated, and simulated beating a double team.
Defensive end William Gholston, the second of the team’s fourth-round picks, spent time working one-on-one with coach Bryan Cox. The two looked like they were doing karate and punching exercises in order to work on Gholston’s hand speed and hand-eye coordination.
During a lengthy install period, in which the coaches went over the plays with the rookies on a walk-through-like pace, Gholston spent most of his time at right defensive end, while Spence was playing the tilted nose tackle spot. Banks primarily lined up at right cornerback.
The coaches were installing blitzes during the period and wanted to see which players could pick up the plays quickly and retain the information.
New special teams coordinator Dave Wannstedt was the loudest and most vocal coach on the field. He has a fiery, energetic demeanor and looks extremely comfortable special teams after more recent stints as a defensive coordinator and head coach.
“Come on! I want to see some athletic ability!” Wannstedt said as he started a special teams period of practice that simulated kickoff coverage and kickoff return blocking. During the special teams portion of practice, all of the draft picks were off with their respective position coaches except for fifth-round draft pick defensive end Steven Means, who is expected to play a large role in coverage teams this year.
After the install period and the special teams period, the defensive linemen went against the offensive linemen in one-on-one pass rush drills, which was the highlight of the practice. Instead of working with the punters and kickers, Wannstedt went over and watched the defensive linemen.
Spence showed great initial quickness off the snap, beating tryout guard Kyle Ritt, but after a few reps it became evident that he is slow to redirect. If Spence can’t stuff the runner or sack the quarterback with his initial, straight-ahead rush, he can likely get washed to the side of the play. At first glance, it looks like Spence needs to work on his laterally agility.
Gholston took the vast majority of his reps at defensive tackle to show his versatility. On his first rep, Gholston jumped offsides. On the next rep, Gholston was stood straight up by Brice Schwab, who was signed by the Bucs as an undrafted free agent from Arizona State.
The highlight of practice occurred on Gholston’s next snap in which he beat Schwab with a great extension and actually sacked a quality control coach. Gholston got by Schwab and literally wrapped up the poor assistant coach and took him to the ground, which he was not supposed to do. The minute the coach hit the ground, Gholston realized he made a mistake and appeared to ask for forgiveness.
Later in one of Gholston’s final reps, he got past his blocker and grabbed a hold of the shirt of the assistant coach who was simulating the quarterback and yanked the sleeve. This prompted Cox to talk to Gholston about his practice etiquette and he likely got on him for not being more restrained, especially without pads.
Suprisingly, Means really struggled in the one-on-one drills. Means has very good speed and great initial quickness, but needs to do a much better job of using his hands and shedding blocks. Rushing mainly from the left side, the Buffalo product was easily locked up by tryout offensive tackles. Means, who primarily used a four-point stance, stays active on the play, but takes an awful long time to free himself up to get to the quarterback.
There were two plays where the 260-pound Means was easily shoved to the ground by tryout offensive tackle Jace Daniels from Northern Michigan, who made a decent first impression. While it’s too early to be real concerned about Tampa Bay’s fifth-round pick, when you look at him he resembles former Bucs defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, who was signed from Denver in 2009 after playing for Larry Coyer with the Broncos and never did anything in Tampa Bay.
Rutgers linebacker-defensive end Marvin Booker, who was one of six former Scarlet Knights defenders in camp on a try-out basis, actually looked better than Means. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Booker is really undersized, but was a fast, efficient pass rusher that had a quick first step and routinely beat the likes of UMass tackle Nick Speller, who was signed as an undrafted free agent.
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.