The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a very hot and physical practice on Saturday at One Buc Place to end the week before getting Sunday off.
Bucs defensive end Adrian Clayborn (groin), fullback Erik Lorig (calf), cornerback Johnthan Banks (hamstring), tight end Luke Stocker (leg), tight end Zach Miller, defensive tackles Gary Gibson and Derek Landri, wide receivers Bobby Sewell, Tiquan Underwood (hamstring), Mike Williams (hamstring) and Vincent Jackson (wife in labor) were the players that did not participate in Saturday’s practice and worked with the training staff on the sidelines.
In the first red zone drill between the quarterbacks and receivers in the individual period, the wideouts were working on acceleration, quickness, and good hands in the end zone. Without Jackson, Williams, or Underwood practicing today, it gave the receivers and opportunity to impress the coaches with some extra reps. Receivers David Douglas and Chris Owusu were the most impressive in this drill, both were quick around the cone and showed good acceleration. Derek Hagan and Carlton Mitchell were the only two to have a drop in the end zone.
The team then went into their first of many walk-through periods. Left guard Carl Nicks, Davin Joseph, and Darrelle Revis all participated in this drill. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim was starting at left defensive end, while Da’Quan Bowers was in at right defensive end in place of the injured Clayborn. Rookie Akeem Spence was the starting nose tackle.
Saturday’s practice consisted mainly of walk-throughs and 11-on-11 periods. In the first 11-on-11, cornerbacks Leonard Johnson and Anthony Gaitor were starting across from wide receivers Kevin Ogletree and Owusu. Quarterback Josh Freeman had a very rough start to practice, forcing all of his throws. Middle linebacker Mason Foster had a pass break up, along with Johnson that should have resulted in a pick as it fell right through free safety Dashon Goldson’s arms.
Rookie running back Mike James continued to get the second-team reps and showed great vision following his blockers. Rookie defensive end William Gholston got some good pressure on backup quarterback Mike Glennon that could have resulted in a sack in a live setting. On the ensuing play, Bowers and Goldson had a scary play in which both were in the backfield to tackle running back Doug Martin for a loss, but ended up hitting each other head first. Both were a little shaken up but were able to walk it off and continue to practice.
Freeman continued his shaky start to practice by forcing a throw that turned into a near interception into the arms of rookie cornerback Rashaan Melvin. But Freeman bounced back on the next play, finding Owusu 25 yards down field for a first down on a square-in route in the middle of the field. Once Freeman completed that pass he seemed to heat up and kept looking to connect with Owusu, who was a big-time playmaker for the Bucs offense on Saturday.
The next play was the best play of the day, by far. Freeman rocketed a pass 57 yards down field to Owusu, who made a perfectly timed jump to come down with a great catch in the end zone for the touchdown. Gaitor was covering Owusu, and actually was in decent position, but Freeman’s thrown was spot on, in a place where only Owusu could come down with it.
During the pass-rush, pass-protection drills, left tackle Donald Penn easily pushed rookie defensive end Steven Means outside. Means would later bull rush Penn and got him off balance for a sack. Bowers rushed from the three-technique position and pushed Ted Larsen out of the way on the next snap with a display of great power. Center Jeremy Zuttah did an excellent job in his two reps of pass protection, stonewalling Pep Levingston. Gholston was chastised by pass rush coach Bryan Cox for not finishing against right tackle Gabe Carimi and stopping his feet once he was initially defeated.
The play of the day in this drill came when right tackle Demar Dotson absolutely manhandled and planted defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim with such power and brute force that it shook up Te'o-Nesheim and he limped off favoring his foot. Dotson has had a tremendous camp and Saturday was another example of why he has a big lead on Carimi for the right tackle job.
After another walk-through and a much-needed water break, the team went back into 11-on-11s. Nicks, who was out much of last season with a toe injury, participated in his first live 11-on-11 drill of camp. On the first play from scrimmage, Freeman hit a wide-open Martin in the flat, and he ran 35 yards down field before being forced out of bounds by Goldson.
Melvin continued his great practice by breaking up another Freeman pass on the next play. Melvin was starting, along with Johnson and Deveron Carr in the second 11-on-11 period. Melvin made another good play, swiping the ball out of Owusu’s hands, but Owusu was somehow able to regain control of the ball before hitting the ground.
After playing a few live snaps, Nicks, who is being eased in slowly, was done for the day when the first team came off the field. Glennon led a hybrid of first- and second-teamers onto the field to continue the 11-on-11 period.
Foster got a sack on the first play, breaking through the offensive line almost immediately. On a short pass to wide receiver Eric Page, Gaitor had the biggest hit of camp that resulted in a penalty for leading with the helmet. Page somehow held onto the ball, but it was the start of what would be the most physical practice of camp thus far.
In order to make the practice more competitive, head coach Greg Schiano had whichever unit lost the most plays in the series do 10 push-ups, and it clearly made the players play more physically and competitively than in previous practices. Both units seemed to drop down for push-ups pretty evenly.
After another walk-through period, Tampa Bay worked on red zone plays. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy continued his monster camp in this drill by having a tackle for loss on Martin and a sack on Freeman on the following play, with the assistance of Means. The 6-2, 193-pound Melvin continued his impressive day with yet another near interception from Freeman, and tallied at least three pass breakups on the day.
After five minutes of individual drills and another water break, the team went a two-minute drill. After a 20-yard reception from Freeman to Owusu, Schiano came out onto the field and had the team work on their controversial QB kneel down rush play. The linemen didn’t go all out, but were working on positioning and technique, which would mean that “kneel gate” will likely be back this season.
After the random kneel exercise, Glennon came out onto the field for his shot at the two-minute drill. It ended quickly with a tipped ball by receiver David Douglas into the arms of rookie cornerback Brandon Smith.
For the first time this training camp, the team went into a Hail Mary walk-thru period where the offense had to score a touchdown with under ten seconds, anywhere from the 45-yard line to the 8-yard line. After the walk-thru, they immediately went into a live setting for it.
The first attempt was on the 43-yard line with eight seconds left. The offense ran a screen pass to Martin who was tackled right away by Bowers. The first successful play came on the 17-yard line when Freeman made a spectacular throw to Derek Hagan who leaped up to make great catch in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
Freeman had another great throw on the next play to Owusu, who made a diving catch in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown. On Freeman’s last attempt, Steven Means threw his hands up and batted down the ball, resulting in a win for the defense.
On the final play of practice, the offense was down by two at the 31-yard line with one second to go. Kicker Derek Dimke came on for the 48-yard game-winning field goal, and nailed it for the win. – Scott Reynolds contributed to this report
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.