For the first time during training camp this season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers unveiled the 3-4 defense – but only for a couple of plays. During the Bucs nickel defensive session, the 3-4 was run with defensive ends Kevin Carter and Greg Spires and nose tackle Chris Hovan as the three down linemen. The four linebackers for the first play were Derrick Brooks and Ryan Nece on the inside and Cato June and rookie Quincy Black on the outside.
For the second play, linebacker Antoine Cash replaced Black as an outside linebacker. With the addition of Black and fellow rookie Adam Heyward, who are both natural pass rushing linebackers, the Bucs are looking to create more versatility and get more speed on the edge.
“We’re trying to create that [versatility],” Gruden said. “One of the things that Quincy [Black] can do is naturally rush the passer, and Adam Heyward has that ability also. And whether we stay with the standard 42 nickel alignment or get into some 33 nickel-type alignments remains to be seen, but we’re working on a lot of different things, not just those two. Personnel, who you put where, sometimes is as big a part of the winning edge in the pass rush as anything.”
Back in May, PewterReport.com first reported that Tampa Bay was tinkering with the 3-4 defense and even some 3-3-5 schemes that were implemented in former collegiate defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn’s Amoeba Radar schemes. Monday’s practice signaled the first time that the Bucs have run that the 3-4 alignment in training camp this year.
JUNE JUST WANTS TO FIT IN The easiest decision for linebacker Cato June this offseason wasn’t which finger was going to sport his Super Bowl ring. No, the easiest decision for June was signing a three-year, $12 million contract with the Bucs so he could remain in the same scheme that made him a world champion and Pro Bowl-caliber linebacker.
June, who played four years with the Indianapolis Colts, made the decision to come to Tampa Bay because of the caliber of players on the defense and the reputation that the Bucs have surrounding the success of the defense. Teaming with linebacker Derrick Brooks, June will be able to learn everything about the Bucs’ vaunted Cover Two defense from one of the top linebackers in the league.
So the decision, as June saw it, was a rather simple.
“They were the only ones that wanted me. No, seriously there were a lot of things,” June said. “The Bucs are known for their defense, they’re known for having 11 guys get to the football, flying around playing physical, tough defense and that’s same mindset we had in Indianapolis. So to come from one defensive scheme that’s similar and come to another one, that’s an easy decision. Then you have great players around you, I’m going to be learning from the best in Derrick Brooks and there are other great players and guys that have played a lot of football on this defense. So being surrounded by veterans like that just makes it easier and makes it more comfortable to fit into scheme that I had already worked in.”
June is getting his first taste of what life is like in the heat of Florida during training camp, but he’s getting used to it. He also understands the standard of defense that has been set here and what a disappointment it was for the Bucs defense to be ranked 17th in the league last season.
“Well it’s about 20 degrees hotter, but it’s all good,” June said. “When you are coming off a season like they had last year, the intensity is that much more because you have the need to win now, and get it done right now as opposed to we’ve known what we’ve been doing and keep the same routine. So something has to change and the intensity has to be picked up and the mental part of it has to be there.”
June is a quick, high-intensity type of player that flies around the field and always ends up around the ballcarrier. June has averaged more than 115 tackles in the past three seasons and recorded a career-high 142 tackles in 2006. Even at 6-foot, 227 pounds, June can deliver a hit and has showed in the first week of preseason that he isn’t afraid of contact.
The addition of June gives the Bucs defense some much needed speed at the linebacker position and also gives defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin some flexibility with schemes. Not only does Kiffin have big plans for June in Tampa Bay’s conventional 4-3 defense, but also in the 3-4 scheme he plans to break out in obvious pass rushing situations.
June has noticed that even though the defense is similar with the Bucs as in Indianapolis, there are still some differences in the language and terminologies. The most important thing for June to accomplish during the preseason is to fit in with the defense and make plays.
“I want to come in and fit in to a defense that is already established,” June said. “With training camp, it’s just about hustling and working. Everybody is tired, everybody is sore and only the strong survive and that’s really how it goes down. You want to stay healthy, but at the same time you want to work hard and that’s what it’s all about because if you are always working, running to the ball and hustling. I always say that good things come when you hustle to the football. Even if you are wrong, if you are hustling to the ball you can make things happen. That’s my whole philosophy and we guys are running around and you get 11 guys to the football it’s all good.”
June’s playmaking ability hasn’t gone unnoticed during training camp as head coach Jon Gruden is impressed with what he sees from his new addition at linebacker. Gruden is stunned that no one has talked more about what June brings to the football field.
“He’s an impact player. No one talks about him and I don’t know why,” Gruden said. “He’s an impact player. Heck, he’s a Pro Bowl linebacker for a world championship team. He’s not fast; he’s real fast. And he’s a collision player. He knows exactly what he’s doing, and he’s what we need here. He’s another playmaker at the linebacker position who certainly is going to help us. He has made more plays than any guy on our football team the first week of training camp.”
INJURY UPDATE Left tackle Luke Petitgout and middle linebacker Barrett Ruud were held out of Monday morning’s practice. Petitgout, who hasn’t participated in contact drills for the better part of a week, tweaked his back and will not play in the preseason opener against the New England Patriots on Friday. Anthony Davis is expected to take Petitgout’ place in the starting lineup with Donald Penn also getting some work on the left side.
Ruud, who has a bruised knee, missed his second consecutive day of practice, but is expected back tomorrow or Wednesday. If he can’t go, Ryan Nece will likely start and Antoine Cash will see some added reps at middle linebacker against New England.
“Barrett’s doing fine,” Gruden said. “If he’s not back tomorrow, we expect him the next day. His status for the game is in question right now, but we hope to have him play.
“[Luke] Petitgout – it’s like Groundhog Day. He’s not quite ready to go. It doesn’t appear that he’ll play against the Patriots. And our goal will be to get him ready for our second preseason game.”
ALLEN HANDS OUT BACKPACKS After Monday morning’s practice, Bucs general manager Bruce Allen handed out backpacks to children from the Justice and Peace Office of Apopka. The backpacks that were handed out were filled with school supplies and Bucs merchandise. This was part of the Glazer Family Foundation’s 2007 “Backpack It Back-to-School” program.
The Apopka Justice and Peace assists low-income minority residents of Orange County with housing, literacy, job training, child care, health care, parenting skills and money management.
NO MONDAY PM PEWTER INSIDER ARTICLE The Buccaneers had a special teams practice lasting just after one hour on Monday afternoon. As a result, PewterReport.com will not be writing a Pewter Insider article covering the practice.
Special teams coach Rich Bisaccia worked out his players without helmets on Monday afternoon in a glorified walk through. Bisaccia spent considerable time getting special teams substitutions work in for this Friday's preseason opener against New England. The Bucs also worked on defending and executing fake punts and onside kicks.
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