Under sunny skies and temperatures hovering in the upper 80s, the Buccaneers hit the practice fields at One Buccaneer Place on Thursday for an organized team activity. Thursday marked the first day that the media was able to view the practice in its entirety. The music blared all afternoon and according to sources it was from Logan Mankin’s playlist. The music ranged from AC/DC to Motley Crue and gave some media members flashbacks to their high school days.
It was evident from the beginning of practice until the end that new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter will be stressing tempo. The OTA was very Schiano-like in the speed and tempo with players hustling on and off the field and players getting to the line of scrimmage very quickly. Another obvious difference in Koetter’s offense versus what was seen last year was a wider variety of receiver routes being run, including really working the middle of the field with slants, stop-and-go and skinny posts from the slot receivers and even the tight ends. That isn’t a slam on last year’s offensive coordinators Jeff Tedord and Marcus Arroyo, just an easy observation after just a few minutes of watching practice.
There were multiple formations with receivers and at times the tight ends were even split wide as receivers. It appears Koetter will look to utilize the tight ends unlike anything done last season and Austin Seferian-Jenkins appears to be poised to have a breakout season if he is able to stay healthy. Seferian-Jenkins looked to be in great shape on Thursday and showing no ill effects from injuries that hampered him in 2014. The former Washington standout looked more confident in his route running and was very fluid getting in and out of his breaks.
First overall pick quarterback Jameis Winston was not in attendance at Thursday’s practice, instead, the Florida State product is in Los Angeles for the NFL’s Rookie Premiere event, which is required for all players who are invited. As a result, third-year quarterback Mike Glennon handled the team’s first-team reps. Glennon was somewhat streaky at times, going from throwing some terrific deep balls and hitting receivers in stride, to looking perplexed and uncomfortable getting his timing down with his receivers. in his defense this is Glennon’s third offense in three years and any quarterback is bound to struggle at times until they get a firm grasp on what his offensive coaches are asking him to do.
Practice kicked off with individual drills for each of the position groups. General manager Jason Licht and director of player personnel Jon Robinson watched the receivers go through individual drills on the west field during this session.
Third-year wide receiver Russell Shepard looked good running drills during individual drills, where he showed good quickness out of his breaks on dig routes and out patterns.
Lovie Smith and company preach takeaways, so it was fitting that the defensive backs and linebackers started Thursday’s practice with interception drills. It’s hard to point out any highlight moments, given that their mostly playing against air, but Johnthan Banks had a nice over-the-top grab while Alterraun Verner, who was spending a lot of time talking one-on-one with Lovie Smith, also had a one-handed catch on the sidelines.
The team then shifted to a session comprised of one-on-ones between the wide receivers against the cornerbacks and the running backs and tight ends against the linebackers and safeties.
Wide receiver Kenny Bell, a fifth-round selection out of Nebraska, beat fourth-year cornerback Leonard Johnson for a deep touchdown on a ball thrown by Glennon.
A player needing a big offseason is second-year wide receiver Robert Herron, who struggled throughout his rookie season. Herron used his great speed to roast cornerback Mike Jenkins down the left sideline, but Glennon overthrew the pass to the speedy wideout.
The linebackers were later integrated with the running backs, covering them out of the backfield on short routes. Lavonte David and Doug Martin had some nice battles, as both players were going full speed and looking smooth from the get-go. David was all over the place and looked ready to deliver a big hit any chance he got, before pulling back during the non-contact practice.
Other lesser-known linebackers that saw a decent share of reps during the one-on-ones were Josh Keyes, Jason Williams and Khaseem Greene. Fourth-round pick Kwon Alexander made a excellent play, as he fell down, recovered and managed to break-up a wheel route to Brandon Meyers, showing great speed.
Undrafted rookie running back Dominique Brown made a few nice contested catches during one-on-ones. For a 6-foot-2, 241 pound running back, the former Louisville Cardinal has excellent hands and is a legitimate threat as a receiver. His potential as a three-down back could give Brown a legitimate chance to make the team if he performs well this offseason.
Practice then shifted to seven-on-sevens, where the outside linebackers fielded the majority of action. Glennon and Lobato were working on check-down throws to running backs, so the Will and Sam backers were getting good work in. Other than David, Danny Lansanah received a decent amount of snaps with the first and second team, as well as Kwon Alexander, who was also seen lining up in the middle during seven-on-sevens. Williams was also being worked in at one of the outside positions.
It was interesting to note that third-year offensive lineman Garrett Gilkey handled all of the snapping duties at the center position throughout the 7-on-7 session.
During the session, wide receiver Rannell Hall, an undrafted rookie out of UCF, made an excellent grab on a pass thrown high by quarterback Seth Lobato. Hall was a standout performer at the team’s rookie mini-camp and his success didn’t come to a halt on Thursday.
The Tampa Bay tight ends got in a lot of work on Thursday, as the team called a significant amount of reps that involved two tight ends. The team also showed off some five receiver looks with tight ends split off in the slot.
Veteran tight end Brandon Myers made a nice contested catch on a middle crossing route near the right hash mark. The pass was darted in by Glennon and Myers did a nice job to make the catch with a crowd of defenders collapsing around him.
Second-year wide receiver Mike Evans was the beneficiary of a blown coverage on the left sideline, as he hauled in a pass from Glennon and ran up-field for a huge gain.
In the secondary, Leonard Johnson and Sterling Moore seemed to be splitting time with the first team, while safeties Chris Conte, Major Wright and Bradley McDougald were constantly rotating. D.J. Swearinger was playing primarily with the second-team.
Linebacker Danny Lansanah flushed Glennon out of the pocket on a linebacker blitz, which forced the tall quarterback to make an ill-advised throw. Later on, Glennon recovered by making back-to-back 20 yard throws to Evans and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
11-on-11s was the last segment of practice before they broke up into special teams for a final time and ran a few field goals.
The Buccaneers rolled out their first-team offense, which consisted of offensive linemen Kevin Pamphile, Logan Mankins, Evan Smith, Kadeem Edwards and Demar Dotson. Running backs Charles Sims and Doug Martin split first-team reps during the session, while Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans held down the wide receiver position.
The second team offensive line featured Donovan Smith, Patrick Omameh, Josh Allen, Jeremiah Warren and Kadeem Edwards. Bobby Rainey took reps at the running back position, while Louis Murphy, Kenny Bell and Tavarres King were featured as the squad’s receivers.
Undrafted rookie linebacker Josh Keyes, a product of Boston College, showed of his short-area quickness by getting to quarterback Seth Lobato for a sack on a play-action play. Keyes (6-2, 223) is a bit light for an NFL linebacker, but the Boston College product is a tremendous scheme fit for Lovie Smith’s cover two defense as an outside linebacker. He’s a sleeper to keep an eye on this offseason.
Lobato threw a strike over the middle to sixth-round pick wide receiver Kaelin Clay, who showed of his jets and outran the entire defense for a long touchdown. Clay, along with Bell and a number of lesser known receivers, appear to have really improved the roster at the receiver position, giving the team an entirely different look with more speed and quickness on the inside.
During the non-contact scrimmage, it was Jacquies Smith and George Johnson mostly lining up on first-team at right and left end, respectively. Second-team defensive ends included Will Gholston at left and Larry English at right. Smith said at practice that there are no set sides, saying that all edge rushers will get an opportunity at both ends during OTAs.
Head coach Lovie Smith talked about the first week of OTAs following Thursday’s workout.
“You can’t really get a lot done; some basic things,” Smith said. ” But once you get to phase three, once (organized team activities) start and you get some offense versus defense it’s always good. We had a couple good days, so far. Of course followed it up with a good practice today. We have a long ways to go. We are not Tennessee Titans-ready or anything like that yet. We’re getting guys into position. Some players we haven’t seen. Some of our rookies we don’t know about. There’s new players. We are making progress. Guys need to show us something on the practice field.
“We are trying to hit as many situations as we can – new offense, some new things we are doing on the defensive side. Good start for the first week.”
– Eric Dellaratta, Zach Shapiro, Eric Horchy and Mark Cook contributed to this report
– All photos by Lacelyn Jones/PR
I didn’t see Bruce vary e’er name mentioned. Was he there?
And where was Marpet….the first team (cough cough) OLine…good thing it’s only May….
Thanks Mark – let’s hope it’s not one of those nagging injuries that lingers all year like a few rookies had last year…
My morale dropped as soon as I read Gilkey was still on the squad. Hopefully Lovie gives Doug Martin a fair opportunity to earn the #1; Sims would not be the #1 RB on any other team in the NFL. Kwon Alexander and Kenny Bell are exciting prospects. Safety depth is worrisome.
Did not see a mention of our 7th round draft pick that could have been La’el Collings.
Collins and his agent make it clear if he didn’t get drafted by the third round they were sitting out the year and re-entering. The only way to re-enter is to BE drafted and then sitting out. As an undrafted FA you don’t have the option to re-enter. Bucs had a better chance of trying to woo him as a free agent that convincing him to sign as a 7th round draft pick. Jerry was just too much. And 31 other teams declined to spend a late round pick on him as well.
I disagree Mark, I think it would have been worth the gamble. Collins would have never sat out the year no matter what his agent said. Also I’m confident that, had he been our 7th, all it would have taken was a good sales pitch from Lovie, Licht and Jameis and he’d of been on board within seconds. No risk it no buscuit.
Indeed Josh – his agent has since gone on the record to say it was a total bluff anyway, of course Collins would have signed with any team that drafted him because the risk of sitting out the year and getting injured or having some other issue arise is way too high….but the bluff was pretty effective for him!
This is not a Bo Jackson situation where he could go play baseball.
We would have his rights for a year. Even if he did not want to play for us, we could have gotten something from Jerry for his rights.
How many of the Bucs 7th rounders even make the team? Yes, could have drafted Collins with a 7th and gave him a incentaive based contract, 31 teams passed yes but how many have problems on their o-line like us?
That would be 32 teams Jon, Dallas included. The proverbial dead dog here. Satchel Paige said never look back, the SOBs may be gaining on ya!
I meant 31 other teams
If Collins would have signed here and cleared of any involvement in the death of his former girlfriend it would have been a real coup. But none of us know if Collins would have accepted his fate as a 7th round choice and the paltry wage or gone through with his threat to refuse to sign and enter the 2016 Draft. Likewise, none of us know if Collins won’t, at some point, become a suspect in his ex girlfriend’s murder. I suspect Jerry Jones, who has already shown his love for a player exiting the closet, a player who is a girl-beater and a guy dumb enough to smoke weed at the Combine, if he can rush the passer, would have little reservation for a potential murder suspect if he can block. When the old man, who has had more facelifts than Joan Rivers, doing whatever he can to get a Superbowl before he crosses the creek and some guy named Romo gets carted off for good, is calling, Collins was willing to listen to whatever championship BS Jerry Jones was promising. He might have hung up on the worst team in the league.
After he makes the pro bowl I’ll remind you why the Bucs blew that decision
That was the point of my comment JonnyG. That the Bucs had little chance of him coming here after he had the chance to choose his team. I agree, it might have been worth it to call Collins’ bluff and draft him anyway. We have a history of that with the drafting of Bo Jackson. As Dr. Phil would say, “How’d that work out?” But if he stuck to his word, we might have wasted a valuable choice.
There is a lot of practice to come and lots of player evaluations to be made, but I’m going on record now – I like the make-up of this team. It is way too early to start making predictions about wins and losses, but I’ve been around this team since its inception and there’s a vibrant buzz going on at the Bucs now that I haven’t seen for a while.
I really like the kind of depth that we have at every position albeit unproven, but enough talent to be optimistic about. The draft was good in my opinion and I think every one of them will make the team. We do not have a pro bowl O-Line yet, but for sure better than last year. We don’t have that monster DE yet, but our inside D-Line is as good as you’ll find in the league. Sooner or later, we’ll get that guy and complete the circle!
So I’m optimistic, almost pumped! I’m going to adopt 3 UDFAs to follow throughout camp as I think they have a good chance to make the team and be 1st year contributors – WR Rannell Hall, FS Chris Hackett, and CB Deshazor Everett.
It is a nice plus to have Jameis Winston, but he has a lot of help this year to become an early success. If this isn’t a good football team, it has the pieces to become one soon! As you can tell, I’m totally in and sold on the upside. Now I’m going to enjoy the preparation and pray that everyone stays healthy! Go Bucs!
I like your idea about following a few of the fringe guys. For me it’s RB Dominique Brown.
To Deeznuts – I agree that it is a let down that Gilkey is still on the squaud. The problem have is that Patrick Omameh had more issues than Gilkey. Below is a list that indicates number of penalties, # of penalties offset, sacks, QB hits and QB hurries. Thankfully Collins and Cousins have been released. The Bucs should do the same with Gilkey and Omameh.
•Patrick Omameh – (5-2) 5, 6, 25
•Garrett Gilkey – (9-3) 2, 3, 7
•Anthony Collins – (10-1) 1, 14, 14
•Oniel Cousins – (5-0) 4, 6, 19
IMO penalties had as much to do with George Warhop and coaching.
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