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April 23, 2014 @ 5:01 pm
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/4 Votes

Inside Bucs Mini-Camp - 4-23

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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The Buccaneers completed the second day of their three-day mini-camp on Wednesday. Which QB looked the best? What DB made the most of his reps? Who was lined up returning kickoffs? Get these answers and more in this Bucs mini-camp report from PewterReport.com.
The Buccaneers began their second day of a three-day mandatory mini-camp under nearly cloudless skies and warm April temperatures that approached the mid-80s. Despite the mild conditions for Florida, the blazing sun and humidity had Bucs players drenched in sweat just minutes into the 2.5-hour workout at the team’s headquarters and sent them frequently to the coolers for re-hydration.

The practice began with a team stretch period before the team broke into nearly an hour of individuals.

The quarterbacks began their afternoon with drop-back footwork agility drills practicing deep drops, then moving forward simulating stepping up in the pocket. Next, the quarterbacks took shotgun snaps and worked on quickly getting the ball out to a receiver on the sideline. In watching practice over the past two days it appears getting ball in the hands of playmakers as quick as possible will be philosophy of Jeff Tedford’s offense.

Wide receivers began their day on the goal line practicing quick first steps off the line of scrimmage. Wide receivers coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker had his unit work off the line of scrimmage, but this time fighting off a cornerback playing press coverage. A standup bag was placed in front of the receivers where they were instructing to rip past the defender. Hayes-Stoker was repeating over and over to be violent getting past the bag. As usual, Vincent Jackson was always first to run drills and excelled, drawing limited correction from his position coach.

Tampa Bay's running backs were on the far southwest corner of the practice field and appeared to be doing some agility and shiftiness work mirroring each other. The running backs took turns holding bags and simulating a free blitzer, while the other back had to step up and pick up the simulated blitz.

The offensive linemen were sent to the far east section of the facility where they worked on staying low, dropping their hips and driving with a wide base.

The defensive linemen were split into two groups with Joe Cullen working with the defensive tackles and assistant line coach Mike Phair working with the defensive ends. Both coaches had the extra players simulating an offensive line where the coaches instructed the formation and the movement of the line to see exactly how the defensive linemen would react. Both were very specific to the players on their footwork and hand placement and also diagnosing the play quickly. It is easy to see why Rod Marinelli loves Cullen, as their vocal and fiery coaching styles are very similar.

During one of the water breaks, veteran Gerald McCoy took former Florida State star Everett Dawkins to the side and was seen giving him some pointers on his technique, particularly on what to look for on a specific play and also using quick feet to penetrate into the backfield. Moments like that answer any questions about McCoy's leadership. It is clear he enjoy taking the younger players under his wing with words of encouragement and experienced advice.

After the individual period, the Bucs took a short break before practicing special teams, spending a good portion of the allotted time on kickoff return. The Buccaneers ran a number of return combinations during the drill. The formation appeared to have a deep returner then a shallow returner line up around the five-yard line. Over the course of the drill wide receiver Skye Dawson, running back Jeff Demps and receiver Chris Owusu took turns fielding kicks with running back Bobby Rainey, receiver Eric Page and nickel cornerback D.J. Moore serving as the up-back.

After the special teams period, the Bucs broke into offensive and defensive groups where the coaches worked on some formation install. The period was slow as the coaches took time to make sure everyone was in place and understood their roles.

The first-team players from both units joined up and the Buccaneers offense went against the defense. On one of the very first plays running back Doug Martin broke free on a run and defensive end Adrian Clayborn raced 30 yards down the field to strip Martin from behind. Immediately the defensive players scooped the ball up, practicing a takeaway return.

In fact, all practice long, if a ball hit the ground on a fumble – or even an incomplete pass – the defensive players would practice scooping the ball and working on their return. It is clear Lovie Smith’s takeaway mentality is being established and he wants any ball that hits the ground to have 11 defensive players looking to recover the ball and return it.

Quarterback Josh McCown carried his stellar play from Tuesday over to Wednesday. McCown is playing relaxed and extremely confident and seems to have a very good grasp of the Tedford-designed offense. In fact, if you didn’t know it, you would think McCown has run this offense for years.

McCown also isn’t afraid to let the ball fly on deep seams, posts or go-routes. His accuracy over the first two days has been remarkable in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. A couple of reporters even commented that it doesn’t look like a mini-camp but more like a scripted pro day for an NFL draft prospect. There just aren’t many balls thrown by McCown that hit the turf, and if they do it is usually due to the receiver dropping it.

McCown also seems to have a knack for splitting defenses, getting the ball just over the linebacker but also in front of the safety. In two days, there have few, if any balls that have sailed on him, something that we saw frequently from former quarterback Josh Freeman. In fact, McCown looks remarkably sharper in practice than Freeman ever did.

Backup Mike Glennon doesn’t seem to have the same grasp, or confidence that McCown has, but still looked solid for the most part. The big difference in the two is McCown is willing to sling it all over the field and challenge small openings where Glennon tends to check down unless a receiver is wide open.

Third-string QB Mike Kafka also looked sharp in his limited role the last two days, and shows nice zip on his passes when given the opportunity.  The quarterback reps seem to be around a 60-30-10 split with McCown getting the most, followed by Glennon then Kafka.

Jackson made a number of plays on Wednesday with a few drops mixed in. The Bucs veteran receiver appears to have a little extra bounce in his step, and his experience is allowing him to gain separation. Jackson and McCown seem to also be developing a solid chemistry as McCown tends to not only look Jackson’s way first, but also trusts Jackson will be where he is supposed to be. A number of the throws are timing throws where McCown lets the ball fly long before the receiver is out of his cut.

Chris Owusu and Louis Murphy appear to be battling to line up opposite Jackson at the other receiver position. Both split some first-team reps and both looked impressive on Wednesday with Owusu really standing out. Not many intended passes for Owusu hit the turf and the former Stanford receiver also showed some impressive speed at times, taking passes in stride and outrunning defenders. Murphy had a number of standout plays including a diving sideline Glennon pass late in practice. Murphy also showed some speed that was lacking in last season’s wide receiving corps.

Another receiver who has had a solid two days of mini-camp is former Hurricanes standout Tommy Streeter. Listed at 6-5, 215 pounds, you sometimes confuse Streeter with Jackson if you don’t catch the jersey number. But Streeter is a bit quicker and able to redirect his momentum to turn up field a little faster than Jackson. Streeter did have one critical drop late in the day on a perfectly thrown Glennon pass that was dropped after Streeter got behind cornerback Bobby Felder.

The defense made a few standout defensive plays on Wednesday, but the day was mostly won by the offense, which seems to be further ahead of the defense through two practices. Felder did have an interception and Banks nearly had one, but dropped it. Verner had a nice pass breakup on a pass intended for Owusu, and cornerback Danny Gorrer also broke up a pass in practice. Middle linebacker Mason Foster broke up two passes in practice, including one down the deep middle in Cover 2.

Tampa Bay linebacker Ka’lial Glaud did pick off McCown and return the interception for a touchdown as he stepped in front of a receiver, who was running a shallow crossing route. Glaud was also involved in the next play, which was perhaps the highlight of the day was a defensive miscue that had Glaud matched up with Jeff Demps, who was split wide as a receiver.

It was a total mismatch as Demps, a former Olympic sprinter easily blew by the linebacker, who was gassed after his pick-six on the previous play. McCown recognized the defensive personnel mismatch, and after allowing Vincent Jackson to run a skinny post pattern that created confusion by the safety, he hit Demps, who ran a go-route, in stride on a 60-yard bomb. Unfortunately, Demps allowed to ball bounce off his hands for an incompletion at the goal line.

Both Glaud and Demps yelled in frustration. Glaud yelled after getting burned and Demps yelled for dropping an easy touchdown pass. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was quick to correct the defenders, particularly the safety saying, “You have got to recognize that.”

– Scott Reynolds contributed to this report
Last modified on Wednesday, 23 April 2014 17:04

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  • avatar

    Love these reports, Mark. As you know Glennon was way too quick to throw check down passes last year unless a receiver was wide open unless the receiver was VJax, and he is just resorting to the same bad habits this year. He also showed no anticipation passes thrown before the cut, and definitely could not throw accurately enough to get passes into small openings. Glad to hear that Josh has none of those problems and is relaxed and slinging that ball all over the field. And not at all surprised to hear that Demps had to jump out to get one of Glennon's balls. I hope he will look a lot better than he does now so we can get better than a 7th round pick for him, which is the level he is playing at right now. I would not be surprised to see Kafka beat him out. (Shows Licht knew exactly where to get a QB bargain when he signed Kafka) We definitely need to get a QB with the 7th pick to let Tedford develop him so he can take over when Josh has to retire. I also think we should hire Josh as QB coach when he gets too old to play. Lovie sure knew who to get in Free Agency for his first QB. I'd rather Demps hadn't had that drop but so did VJax (too often last year when it counted too) but both need to work on being able to hold on to every ball that is catchable. Hope Owusu will be the real deal this year. Excited about Murphy too.
  • avatar

    I have seen McCown for several yrs here in AZ so I don't buy into practices nor the 7 games he had last yr he will have to prove me wrong over a course of a regular season, but its still encouraging to hear that he looks every bit the part to be succesful, but I'm still crossing my fingers, lol
  • avatar

    I didn't know you are here in AZ, great to have another Buc fan here.
  • avatar

    Thats great coverage of the two day practices so kudos. I'm glad guys like Owasu and Streeter have looked good as well but do we really feel comfortable having them being the #2 wideout come Sept? I don't and thats why I'm campaining for the drafting of Mike Evans unless we can get Manziel, Pinkstob, Yes Clayborne plays with heart well thats great and all but he is still a mediocre player who will never have double digit sacks, I think due to his limited pass rushing ability and only has one real move which is the "Bull Rush". The uniforms on the field look better than they did in the unveiling so I'm glad they don't look as hideous as originally thought.
  • avatar

    Thanks for the comment, MC. Glad to hear that Owusu has looked good again. Hope he can figure out what went wrong last year and correct it. Also glad to hear that he is a good person too. Go Bucs !!
  • avatar

    Pink I see you're a family man. That's exactly what we now have at quarterback. A grown man with four mouths to feed. We had a young Q.B. in Freeman who never grew up, or lived up to his draft status. Suffered for years with that idiot. I for one am not looking to turn this team over to another 21 year old. Revel in the fact we have a real man playing the position. I think McCown is going to light it up this year.
  • avatar

    As for McCown, I'm glad to hear he is playing better than I expected. However, I do take it with a grain of salt because he's used to practicing against Lovie's defense and this defense isn't as good yet because the defenders aren't used to playing it.
  • avatar

    Moments like that are the reason I still like Clayborn. He plays with so much heart. He has become exactly the player I thought he would be when I saw him play in college: A great run stopper, a fantastic motor and 7 to 9 sacks a year. It's just that type of player wasn't worth taking at the spot we took him in the 1st round relative to the other players that were available in the draft. I hope he has a great year at LDE and the Bucs work out a fair contract with him next year. I think that he needs at least 8 sacks to be offered a new contract next year, but I'd also like to see him lead the D-line in tackles, as well as get 3 FF's.
  • avatar

    Great read Mark. Its really exciting to hear about McCown. Maybe Lovie knew what he was getting afterall. We all kinda questioned the quick trigger pull on the starter spot, but ill be damned, If he can keep this up...
  • avatar

    How does a guy ( Stocker ) who does nothing, never plays, always ends up hurt?
  • avatar

    Pewter Report ‏@PewterReport • 5h Yet to hear Lovie even raise his voice in the last two days. Hardly even know he is there for the most part. Players with a ton of respect.........A tweeted observation from PewterReport of Lovie Smith’s quiet diplomacy - a welcome change from last year. But players shouldn’t take that for granted. Lovie and Licht will cut you in a New York minute. Myron Lewis wouldn’t have lasted nearly that long with these guys. My advice to Luke Stocker is stay out of the tub (noticed he was hurt again yesterday). It may be a quieter, nicer environment, but it could be quietly more dangerous!
  • avatar

    What safety blew the coverage on the Demps drop?
  • avatar

  • avatar

    No offense to Freeman or Glennon fans, but McCown just looks like a QB. As hard as we wanted to see Josh succeed and Mike last year, the last few years there were puzzling moments in these types of camps that in the back of your mind worried you a little. I tried to be optimistic the last few years but after watching McCown the last two days, you really see a QB that is relaxed and confident and maybe more importantly, in control. Seriously the guy looks like he is playing the JV team at times. I am not proclaiming this guy a top 5 QB, but I have watched every QB in person going back to a kid at the UT Perkins days and I have never seen a better two-day performance. And I promise I am trying to curb my enthusiasm. Now saying that, he might not hit the broad side of a barn tomorrow.
  • avatar

    I'm not married to any player. That doesn't mean I don't like most players on some level either. If Glennon gets beat out, then so be it.
  • avatar

    Mark, it appeared to me Glennon put on a couple of pounds in some of the photo's I saw of him. How'd he look to you?
  • avatar

    surfer, I can't confirm but Greg Auman tweeted this a few days ago. Greg Auman ‏@gregauman Apr 22 New roster also has Bucs RB Doug Martin dropping eight pounds to 215, QB Mike Glennon dropping seven pounds to 225.
  • avatar

    I don't see any difference really. I talked to him today and he said he has been working out trying to get stronger, but with his type of build it would take a 20+ pound weight gain for me to really notice a difference. Like his attitude today though.
  • avatar

    Good reading PewterReportMC. Compared to last year this teams already appears better. OG and WR seems to be the biggest if question when we hit the draft. I have zero clue who we will pick in Rounds 1 & 2; so I will guess at the famous letters, BPA. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Kafka looking to beat out Glennon? That can prove interesting. It's looking like we can defintielly draft best player available.
  • avatar

    Glad to hear that Owusu may be getting a chance. I really liked him in training camp last year and was hoping he would get a better shot. I know he was injured, but last year's coaching staff didn't seem to like him very much as he didn't seem to get many opportunities. Thought he did pretty well in the pre-season too. Im think that may have been when he got hurt. Will be interesting to see if Owusu or Dawson sticks around. I liked Owusu better but thought the prior staff liked Dawson better.
  • avatar

    Owusu looked terrific the last two days, but he did last year in camp also then melted down in the preseason. I'm pulling for the guy. Awesome dude to talk to.
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