Under sunny skies and temperatures in the 80’s Tampa Bay took to the practice fields at One Buc Place on Friday morning. The players took the field for their second training camp practice of the summer in shells and started off as they normally do with a stretching period.
Practice hadn’t been started long before a surprise visitor showed up. Newly retired Ronde Barber showed up looking relaxed and at ease. Barber is joining the Buccaneers television broadcast with News Channel 8 this fall calling Bucs preseason games, as he gets ready to start his new job with FOX Sports. As Barber was talking to the media, the crowds in the northwest section of the stands spotted him and began shouting his name. Barber smiled, but was his usual shy self, not looking to raw attention during practice.
After the team finished stretching, they went through a special teams period consisting of field goal attempts and kickoff coverage. This time it was first-year kicker Derek Dimke’s turn to attempt three field goals and unlike veteran Lawrence Tynes yesterday, who only made one of his three attempts, Dimke made all of his tries. However, Dimke was kicking through a full size field goal post instead of the skinny post that Tynes used yesterday.
The team then went through a few individual periods. Pewter Report had a great view of the offensive line drills in the south endzone and paid close attention to what coaches Bob Bostad and Steve Loney were preaching to their unit.
The offensive line focused on both strength and technique and split up into two groups with those two coaches. The group led by Bostad pushed sleds and worked on explosion and power while Loney’s group worked on pad level and footwork through chutes.
The chute drills were intense as Loney constantly yelled at his guys about specific technique and form he wanted to see. It was great to see guards Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks participating in both drills and neither appeared to be suffering any ill effects from injuries that sent them to injured reserve last season.
The chute drills are something you will see on Pee Wee League and high school fields on any given fall day, and while some may see the drills as basic and simple, Loney, Bostad – and Schiano – disagree. As noted since Schiano took over last season, even the most simple and basic fundamental drills are practiced on a regular basis.
At one point Loney yelled to his group, “Some of you guys aren’t getting reps, that’s your fault not mine.” While PewterReport.com couldn’t determine exactly the reason behind the statement, it is clear something had upset Tampa Bay’s assistant offensive line coach.
Another note of interest in the individual period was that cornerback Darrelle Revis was working with the wide receiver group and participating with them in their drills. Schiano reiterated on Friday that the staff has a plan for Revis and his rehab, but are still being very cautious at this point.
After positional drills finished, quarterback Josh Freeman took the field as the team went into their seven-on-seven period.
Rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks made his presence known to start off this period by making a great leaping interception on a Freeman pass underthrown to Mike Williams toward the sideline and showed his great ball range on the play. On the very next play Banks dove towards a Freeman pass intended for Vincent Jackson and knocked the ball away to cause an incompletion.
Freeman then threw a couple of passes out of the backfield to his running backs. First Freeman hit Brian Leonard in the flat and then threw another pass to Peyton Hillis out of the backfield. Both of Tampa Bay’s new additions at running back took turns lining up next to starter Doug Martin in the backfield, giving the team two great receiving options in the flats.
Next up was rookie quarterback Mike Glennon. Glennon started off his reps by throwing an interception right into the hands of cornerback Mike Adams, who read Glennon’s eyes and jumped in front of his intended receiver. Glennon made up for it on the next play, however, by throwing a strike to tight end Nate Byham, who beat cornerback Myron Lewis to the inside on a slant.
Glennon mainly stuck with and was successful on his short passes and check downs just like on the first day of camp and struggled hitting his intended targets on his intermediate to long passes. Glennon overthrew wide receiver Chris Owusu on one play and then overthrew receiver Tiquan Underwood later in practice, who got behind the secondary and would have scored on the play.
The Bucs continued seven-on-sevens, but changed their pace every other period from high tempo to a slower tempo, in what coach Schiano called teaching periods. During these teaching periods, Darrelle Revis got onto the field and then left when the team returned to a faster pace.
Tampa Bay’s second round pick Banks lined up on the opposite side of Revis today and ran with the starters, continuing to prove himself to the coaching staff. After this teaching period the team returned to intense seven-on-sevens.
Freeman hit Jackson across the middle of the field on the first play and then Jackson made another diving catch running through the middle a few plays later. Freeman then threw a strike to Nate Byham with linebacker Mason Foster in tight coverage.
Glennon’s turn was next and the third round pick completed short passes to Underwood across the middle of the field and then to Owusu on an outside slant.
One coach reminded Glennon to keep his form in the pocket yelling, “posture, posture!”
Freeman then got back onto the field and floated a pass to the outside intended for Jackson which was broken up by cornerback Anthony Gaitor. Freeman was off target again on a pass out of the backfield to running back Mike James, but then finished off the period with a strike to Byham, who had an impressive day catching the football.
After the team went through a quick 11-on-11 period, coach Schiano directed the defense towards the right side of the field and the offense to the left of the field and the team broke into groups for two periods of individual drills. The team mainly focused on stripping the ball to force fumbles in their groups and then worked on recovering fumbles.
The final portion of practice featured an 11-on-11 period and started off with some trickery. Freeman threw a screen pass to receiver Mike Williams and then Williams threw the ball down field to Jackson on a wide receiver pass play. The defense was not fooled on the play though, causing Williams to hesitate on the throw and leading to an incompletion.
That same trio made up for it on the next play however, with Freeman’s best throw of the day. The Kansas State product threw a bullet right down the middle of the field and hit Williams on a slant with Jackson running a post and drawing taking the safeties down the field to open up a window for Williams behind the linebackers.
Then practice ended with quarterback Dan Orlovsky getting a couple of reps and on one of those plays defensive end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim got a great rush and bat down one of Orlovsky’s passes right in front of the nine-year veteran.
Tampa Bay takes the practice field next on Saturday evening and will wear full pads for the first time at camp this year as the team participates in their annual night practice.
The starting defense during Friday’s practice included a few new faces. Defensive end Aaron Morgan played opposite end Da’Quan Bowers and subbed for Adrian Clayborn in a few series ahead of Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, which was interesting. Rookie Akeem Spence lined up at nose tackle next to Gerald McCoy. Spence replaced veteran Gary Gibson, who ran with the No. 2 defense on Friday.
There were no changes to the starting linebacking corps except that both Najee Goode and Adam Hayward took turns at middle linebacker replacing the injured Mason Foster later in practice.
In the secondary, rookie Johnthan Banks and Leonard Johnson got the start with rookie Rashaan Melvin splitting time with Michael Adams in the slot role in nickel defense. Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron were the starting safeties.
Rookie running back Mike James and fullback Brian Leonard saw plenty of action with the first-team offense on Friday. Doug Martin is the clear-cut starter and took his share of reps with the first-string, but the Bucs are looking for a backup for Martin, and auditioned James for that role extensively on Friday. Newcomer Peyton Hillis also logged his first carries as a Buccaneer as he learns the playbook.
While veteran Pro Bowl guards Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks are fully cleared to practice from their respective injuries last year, but the coaching staff wants to take it slow in terms of integrating them back into the starting lineup in team drills. As a result, Cody Wallace has been getting a lot of quality reps at right guard filling in for Joseph. Ted Larsen was filling in for Nicks at left guard as he did last year.
For the most part the Buccaneers appeared to stay healthy although linebackers Mason Foster and Jonathan Casillas limped off the field during the latter half of practice, and wide receiver Kevin Ogletree also suffered a minor injury that caused a loud gasp from the crowd. But the former Cowboys’ receiver quickly bounced up and returned to the field shortly thereafter. Foster and Casillas didn’t return, but during the post practice press conference Schiano didn’t address the injuries, leading most to believe they were insignificant.
The Buccaneers will be back on the practice field on Saturday, but instead of at One Buc, Tampa Bay will host their annual night practice at Raymond James Stadium where there will be a pre-practice autograph session, followed by practice and fireworks to end the night.
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