The format of Wednesday’s 9 a.m. practice featured an extended period of position drills and warmups, but that was probably because of the added intensity and hitting during the latter part of the afternoon.
Whether it was 11-on-11 scrimmage, 7-on-7 passing offense, 1-on-1 isolation battles or goal line Power O, Wednesday’s session included a little more emotion and a few more hard knocks.
Before getting into the chippiness of practice, we’ll take a look at some notable moments from 11-on-11’s.
The Buccaneers were trying a few different combinations along the five-man front, while Jameis Winston and Mike Glennon rotated with the first and second-team offensive lines. Reid Fragel started the drill at right tackle, though new signee Gosder Cherilus hit the field for the first time and saw reps with the 1’s, too. Ali Marpet started at guard with Evan Smith at center. It was another day off for Logan Mankins, giving Kadeem Edwards a few extra reps on the left side next to tackle, Donovan Smith.
On defense Kwon Alexander started his third straight day with the 1’s at Mike linebacker, while Bruce Carter took reps occasionally at Sam (mainly with second-team). The Buccaneers meshed first and second-team units on defense, as first-team D line would occasionally line up with second-team linebacker and safeties.
One of the more interesting notes regarding the lineup was Henry Melton’s primary position. Although Lovie Smith said a few weeks ago that Melton would play strictly at tackle, the former Bear was seen throughout practice taking reps at defensive end. It’s important to keep in mind that Smith said that before the team signed Tony McDaniel. The Bucs are trying different combinations in an effort to maximize the talent on the field, and they’re apparently testing Melton at end.
Winston was out to a fast start during 11-on-11’s, looking extremely sharp and in command of the offense. The rookie’s favorite target all afternoon was Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The second-year tight end had his best day Wednesday, catching roughly ten passes over the course of an hour.
Charles Sims also had a few nice plays, especially catching out of the backfield. Both Winston and Glennon found Sims at least once to bail them out of pocket pressure, although both plays looked like would-be sacks in a real game. Still, it doesn’t take away from Sims’ sharp cuts and avoided tackles after the catch.
On the defensive line, Lawrence Sidbury and Ryan Delaire were the standouts among the edge rushers (Jacquies Smith and T.J. Fatinikun sat practice out again). Sidbury had some great battles with Cherilus, while Delaire flashed a spin move that was Everson Griffin-like.
On the inside, William Gholston stood out. The end-converted-to-tackle was getting inside the guard and center all afternoon, finding his way into the backfield and applying decent pressure. Gholston still appears to have an up-hill battle to make the final cut, but the Michigan State product made his strongest case yet Wednesday.
In regards to interior part of the lines, Marpet got another heavy dose of McCoy, as the two battled from iso’s to scrimmage. Clinton McDonald was arguably the most intense player on the field, but that was mainly during the goal line period to finish practice.
Bucs OT Edawn Coughman – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
At the second level Lavonte David was his usual self, closing in on wherever the ball was and making the play. The Will linebacker added to his interception total on Tuesday but Wednesday was more about his performance against the run. David was sprinting through the gaps in run pursuit, and on one play he met Doug Martin for the day’s hardest hit to that point.
As the defensive line gathered in the end zone of Field 1 for isolation battles, it was time for passing offense in 7-on-7’s.
While Seferian-Jenkins was the offensive player of the day, D.J. Swearinger was the defensive MVP. Typically known as an in-the-box type safety, Swearinger had his share of moments in coverage to go along with his fierce hits. The former second-round pick intercepted two passes, first off Winston’s slant to Louis Murphy and then off Glennon’s overthrown ball on an out route. Swearinger also defended a pass over the middle to Seferian-Jenkins, getting up and shaking his head in celebration.
David’s best play in the passing 7-on-7’s was when he broke up Winston’s pass over the middle to Cameron Brate.
Over in the corner of the end zone during 1-on-1’s, George Warhop and Joe Cullen were fully engaged. The latter was his usual, vocal self, yelling at and motivating his defensive linemen and celebrating their wins.
George Johnson and Jamaal Young each beat Donovan Smith with a spin move. Most remember the rookie’s first NFL snap last Saturday where he was beat by the same technique by Vike’s pass rusher Everson Griffin. Johnson and Young were both impressive, but Smith has to adjust better to initial moves, especially the spin.
On the O Line, Cherilus looked the part at times. The former Colt was dropping back to simulate pass blocking and fared well against Larry English for the most part. Though, Cherilus was also beat by a spin move by Sidbury, who was all over the place during this period.
The highlight of 1-on-1’s consisted of a mini, short-lived scuffle in the corner of the end zone. It was hard to see how or who started it, but both sides of the lines got a little feisty before it was quickly broken up. This became a theme throughout the rest of practice, as the offense and defense were clearly getting competitive during the goal line portion.
Before goal line there was one more series of 11-on-11 scrimmage. During Round 2, the hits were hard and often. Gang tackling was also a thing, most notably when Bradley McDougald joined Leonard Johnson to take down Robert Herron. Both defensive players high-fived, as intensity between the offense and defense was starting to hit it’s peak – then came goal line.
After Doug Martin was shoved into the end zone with the help of his linemen, the defense responded by stuffing Charles Sims the next play. Each side celebrated their win, leading a few players to taunt the opposition.
Henry McDonald seemed to be in the middle of every scuffle, whether it was with Garrett Gilkey during and after the play, or after the whistle when he was seen butting heads in the offensive huddle.
Overall, there were about 15 goal line plays run, most of which were running attempts. Dominque Brown trucked Keith Tandy on his way for a one-yard score, while McDonald blew up Gilkey to make a play in the backfield. This was the most intense and competitive the Buccaneers have looked throughout camp.
All chippiness was within the boundaries of the game and Lovie Smith, who downplayed the intensity after practice, said that the team needs to have an edge as they prepare for the regular season.
“Little chippy,” Smith said about practice. “Not even enough to really talk about, didn’t think you all would even notice it. It’s good physical play as much as anything. We have to be a physical team. We talked about running the ball offensively. Once you get down on the goal line, we know what’s coming. And the defensive side of course knows what the offense is doing. It’s good to see our players in a situation like that.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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