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May 4, 2013 @ 6:21 pm
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Rookie Mini-Camp Practice Report: Day 2: Defense

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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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.

Last modified on Sunday, 05 May 2013 11:00

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  • avatar

    Once again, some of you are reaching where there is nothing to reach for? No one is saying anything negative about the Rookie Mini Camp Practices. Talk about gossip where there is none.
  • avatar

    I wanted us to select Goldston so I am excited to hear his motor is running high even if its at the expense of a quality coach lol. I have seen lots of Big Ten football living in the Midwest and he consistently flashed when I watched Michigan State. If the Bucs are able to keep his motor running that high during the season I think he will be the steal of the draft, similar to Mike Williams. This draft should have three impact players come in and play in Goldston, Spence and Banks. Hopefully we found a solid swing tackle in the workouts as well since that is still a need heading into the reg season as it appears Lee is set to start.
  • avatar

    Loved your post Chandler. The great # 99 didn't start off like the HOF player he ultimately became. Nowadays, fans call players a "bust" if they don't immediately deserve a bust in Canton. Interesting that there wasn't any report on the secondary or linebackers. Seems the Pewter Report gang was focused on the defensive line. Let's do a little thinking here with regards to prematurely evaluating our young draftees after just two workouts. Our now departed Michael Bennett had 9 sacks last year and Roy Miller, his fellow departee had 3 (I think). They played in somewhere around 600-700 plays to collect those relatively modest statistics. Yet we here in " Now or Never Land" are ready to call them "fillers" and already looking to next year to improve our weak pass rush because in a handful of plays in shorts they got blocked on occasion. Duh! These guys were drafted in the 4th and 5th rounds where not a lot of stars are found, and after two workouts we call them "over-drafted". As my buddy JonnyG would say, "hilarious". I suppose we would be anointing them with a rookie of the year title if they defeated a block or two this weekend. Sheesh!
  • avatar

    It isn't about how great they look in practice. What matters is how the draftees stack up to their peers and those that went undrafted. Right now Gholston has given some mixed results while Means seems like a project from the rookie mini camp. We shall see what they can do once they start to go up against superior talent that is on that active roster though soon enough.
  • avatar

    Nice to see our new charges are getting good instruction. Spence's strength has been well documented already, but if training can teach him how to redirect and exercises can give him better lateral movement, perhaps he can learn how to finally get the sacks he will need in the NFL to meet our needs. I am glad to learn he has a good quick first step, too. I am still pulling for Means, but at 260 pounds I don't expect him to excel as a DE, and I think Gholston will be our 2d DE backup, despite his overexuberant tackles Saturday. Means needs to be competing for SLB solely, but he is going to have to learn the basic requirement: shedding blocks, for that position too. The DE from Rutgers, Booker, who looked better than Means is big enough to compete at SLB and should be competing for that job too.
  • avatar

    I will be surprised if Gholston doesn't make the team as rotational DE. Means, well we'll see. He's a long shot IMO.
  • avatar

    But that’s what some of you are doing. 2 days of getting these young rookies up to speed. College to the NFL is a big step. There’s a long…….way to go, learning, teaching. These guys will be on our rotation on the D-line day 1. This stuff is just for us Buc fans to read up on during the off season, give it time for heaven’s sake?
  • avatar

    BucinNaples, I don't think one Post on this Article is saying anything negative; not Horse, DrT1066, chandlerglover, devasher, WVBucFan, Nathaniel_17, alldaway. I have read all Posts again and there is nothing wrong about any of them.
  • avatar

    Patrick Chukwurah! OUCH!
  • avatar

    chandlerglover; I am not saying that the draft was a bust nor anything like that. All I am saying is that just about any draft pick can be questionable and the later the round the more questionable they become. My goodness, this was day two of a rookie practice with no pads or anything like that. There is nothing to be determined at this point, but maybe for fans to lower their expectations a little bit and give the players time to mature in the NFL. I don't expect much from 3rd round picks and on to be immediate starters. Most of these guys will need time to develop. Geez, some many Posts jump to conclusions if it isn't all rah rah; go to team go.
  • avatar

    Dude Horse, I specifically put no offense so that you wouldn't think I was calling you out personally. Once I saw that your quote was verbatim what the Orlando Sentinel wrote I put that in the so you would know it was a broad statement. Obviously from reading your post you get my point but please don't take "No Offense" as tongue & cheek! On another note I think we may be progressing to were we can start to expect things from our 3rd round draft picks. THe Seahawks have been and so have the Niners. We seem to be going, (not there yet), that direction. What do you think?
  • avatar

    Woohoo yeah these guys made mistakes in their first NFL practices, in tryout pads. No recovering from that. Ever right? A love letter to over-criticism. Dear Over-Criticism, If you'll remember in the mid 90's our die hard passion sparked an affair between us and a first round draft pick defensive lineman. It was quoted as being a "river boated gamble", (No offense Horse), by then head coach Sam Wyche due to a reported but unverified 6 failed drug tests for THC and one for cocaine. Then our courting intensified Over-criticism during training camp in 1995 with him being tossed to the ground and often missing his assignments. Over-criticism we then went into full on fling when he got benched that year after 8 games, those were some of our steamiest times together. Oh the overreaction to his reported attitude problems and then Hardy Nickerson saying neither that he nor anyone else one the defense would ever be a leader was the epitome of our romance. But alas you cheated on me and the rest of the Buccaneer nation allowing this guy to win DPOY, multiple Pro Bowls, our First Superbowl, the 2nd Franchise HOF Player, and just recently being inducted to the Franchises “Ring of honor”. I am now warning everyone about you over-criticism, you cannot be trusted and often times go out of your way to make fans looks stupid! Love Chandler....
  • avatar

    4th and 5th rounders sound a lot better in theory then they are. Every year there are a few that won't make it to out of camp even though their team just spent a 'valuable resource' on them. Some Buc fans can remember the days of Chris Colmer, Dre Moore and Alan Zemaitis. If one of the three picks make a significant contribution then Dominik did a mediocre job, if two do it he did an outstanding job.
  • avatar

    Hahah its day two and people already trying to call this draft class a bust. Watched yhe the video on the teams website and it shows a clip of Means blowing past an OT. Im sure given the time to be coached this class will be fine
  • avatar

    Thank you! Everyone is making predictions about these guys after two practices, minicamp practices at that. They went in the 4th/5th rd. for a reason; It'll take a couple of seasons until they start to put it all together. Lol Fans giving up on em after two practices.
  • avatar

    Both Gholston and Means were overdrafted I believe, but that can't be changed. With that said, I believe Gholston and Means are good candidates for the PS. Probably the Bucs hang onto Gholston to "red shirt" him on the final roster since he is a fourth rounder or finds his way to "IR". But, in all likelihood I don't see Gholston as a part of the DL rotation for the active lineup. Most of my close friends that are die hard Bucs fans seem to agree with my sentiment.
  • avatar

    It appears our 4th rounder's and on appear to be what everyone expected? This was a riverboat gamble draft and it is showing it so far. Let's hope that one or two will pan out as steals in the draft; if not, then they are just filler's for the season until the next draft comes along. I am still very concerned about our pass rush.
  • avatar

    Well good morning Scott; nice to see you all decided to get the Article out even if it was a very late one. Please don't promise what you can't fulfill.
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