Tampa Bay re-signed cornerback Phillip Buchanon during the offseason with the intention of having him make a significant impact on defense and special teams.
The former first-round draft pick likely will be Tampa Bay’s nickel cornerback this season, and he’s one of the candidates to earn the punt and/or kickoff return jobs.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden has liked what he has seen from Buchanon thus far. In fact, he intends to get the 5-foot-11, 186-pound Buchanon involved on the offensive side of the ball this year.
“You’re going to see more of Buchanon on offense,” said Gruden. “He’s going to play some offense for us. We’ll get him involved in the kicking game. There will be some things that we get to here later in camp.”
A former Oakland Raider and Houston Texan, Buchanon is no stranger to the end zone. He’s scored seven touchdowns in five seasons in the NFL. Four of those scores came on defense while the other three TDs came via punt returns.
“On every team I’ve been on they talked about having me play offense,” said Buchanon, who originally joined the Bucs as a free agent during the 2006 season. “Right now it’s something we’re still talking about here.
“I definitely look forward to it. I just love touching the ball, period.
It’s not yet clear what role Buchanon will have on offense. But Tampa Bay’s offense, which scored just 20 touchdowns and ranked 29th overall in 2006, could certainly use all of the playmakers it can get, and Buchanon is obviously considered one by Gruden.
“I don’t want to get into all of that now right now. We’re going to ask him to do a lot of things,” Gruden said. “We’re going to ask him to do some things that might help us out in some situations.”
In the meantime, Tampa Bay’s defense has been pleased with the play of its nickel cornerback.
“He’s a good player,” Gruden said of Buchanon. “I don’t know – grasp is probably not a good enough word. He’s choking it. He’s grabbing firm control of his performances everyday, and I think the exciting thing is he and [Ronde] Barber and [Brian] Kelly working together, I think the three of them know that they’ve got a chance to be a pretty good darn unit.”
SLIPPERY WHEN WET Tampa Bay managed to hold a two-hour practice in full pads at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex on Thursday morning despite a heavy downpour in the Orlando area.
However, the rain-soaked practice featured some mistakes. In addition to having some bad quarterback/center exchanges, Tampa Bay’s wide receivers had trouble catching the football during the rainy workout.
“Yeah, we got every period in,” said Gruden. “We didn’t catch the ball worth a hoot, and that’s something that’s very disappointing. I realize it’s bad weather – for golf. It’s bad weather for being a receiver. It’s bad weather for doing your lawn. But you have to get the job done, and we didn’t catch the ball worth a damn today.”
Wide receivers Chas Gessner, Michael Clayton, Chad Owens, David Boston and Paris Warren were each guilty of dropping at least one pass during the practice.
Although it would not be ideal, Gruden said there is a simple solution to avoid having the receivers drop the football.
“We’ll hand the ball off – that’s what we’ll do,” said Gruden. “That’s what I tell the receivers. ‘We’ll just hand it off. All you guys want all these catches and all these yards and stats. We’ll hand the ball off if we can’t catch it better than the way we did today.’ It’s tough. It’s very, very tough. The ball is slick and I think this caught them by surprise a little bit. It came out of nowhere and it picked up its pace and continued to pound. But we’ve got to catch the ball a lot better, or we’ll run the ball and punt a lot.”
The Bucs held a special teams practice at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex on Thursday afternoon.
Tampa Bay’s first special teams training camp practice was cancelled due to inclement weather conditions.
When the morning practice ended Gruden was unsure whether the weather would allow the Bucs to conduct their special teams workout. Gruden hopes that will not be the case this time around.
“We’ll see what happens,” said Gruden when asked if the afternoon practice would be conducted as scheduled. “We need to get out here and get our special teams some work – not only punt protection and kickoff coverage, but special situations, our hands team, things of that nature, special situations.”
It was held under heavy cloud cover and a light drizzle, but the one hour and 10 minute special teams practice was held as planned.
NOTE: Due to the inclement weather conditions at training camp on Thursday, Pewter Report will not be posting an Inside Bucs' Training Camp Pewter Insider article on Thursday.Â
QUARTERBACKS CONTINUE TO IMPRESS Not all was bad during Thursday morning’s rainy practice. Although he was disappointed in the play of the receivers, Gruden liked what he saw from the quarterbacks, particularly starter Jeff Garcia and Luke McCown, who continues to take advantage of the reps he receives while Chris Simms rests a sore elbow.
“I was really pleased with Garcia in the two-minute drill,” said Gruden. “I thought McCown had a nice two-minute drill. The 9-on-7 was a very physical period. Moving the ball at the end, we took the coaches off the field, we had a couple of nice plays on both sides. It’s hard to concentrate in weather like this, hard to play football, but it was a good practice in that regard also.”
The Bucs actually practiced wet ball drills on Tuesday morning. But on Thursday, Garcia decided to put on gloves in an effort to get a better handle on the wet football. The jury is still out on whether Garcia liked playing with gloves on.
“Jeff played in Canada. He’s played in all kinds of weather,” said Gruden. “What we’re doing, as we do every year, is we get the top-notch technology that’s out there – rain gear, things of that nature. [Former Bucs QB] Brad Johnson didn’t want to do it his first year when I was here, but I think in one of his games he wore the gloves. So we’re trying to see. ‘Hey, man, does the glove help? Does it inhibit you? And if it can help, maybe we ought to use it.’”
Simms, who has been extremely limited in terms of throwing the football, attempted to throw some passes during Thursday morning’s practice. However, Simms still appears to be bothered by a sore elbow.
“I have no comment on him, other than we tried to give him a few reps early and he didn’t take anymore after that” said Gruden. “A lot of that has to do with McCown and [Bruce] Gradkowski as much as it does his body right now. But he needs to get well in a hurry. I think the elbow is getting better, but it’s frustrating right now for him.’
ADAMS, PETITGOUT MISS PRACTICE AGAIN Several players were held out of Tampa Bay’s Thursday morning practice, including left tackle Luke Petitgout, defensive end Gaines Adams, wide receiver Joey Galloway, defensive tackle Ryan Sims and defensive lineman Ellis Wyms.
Petitgout has missed three straight practices due to a “sore body.” Gruden suggested Petitgout would have practiced Thursday if it weren’t for the inclement weather conditions.
“The weather had a lot to do with our decision today,” said Gruden. “He’ll be back tomorrow.”
Adams has missed two straight days of practice with a triceps strain. Gruden seemed optimistic that the rookie defensive end would return to practice on Friday.
“He’ll be back tomorrow in some fashion,” Gruden said of Adams. “I don’t know if he’ll be full-go every period, but we’ll see how he feels tomorrow. We’re not overly concerned that he’ll be out a long period of time, and we’ll give him a shot tomorrow.”
SPECIAL GUEST Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott attended Tampa Bay’s special teams practice on Thursday afternoon.
Lott, a former San Francisco 49er safety, is the father of Bucs linebacker Ryan Nece.
CADDILAC STILL IMPRESSING Carnell “Cadillac Williams exploded onto the scene as a rookie when he rushed for 1,178 yards (4.1 avg.) and six touchdowns in 2005.
However, the former first-round pick out of Auburn struggled in 2006, rushing for just 798 yards (3.5 avg.) and one touchdown while dealing with various injuries.
How is he faring in training camp thus far? So far so good for Williams, who has made a lot of progress in his effort to become a more complete running back.
Most importantly, Gruden said Williams is healthy and ready to rebound from his sophomore slump.
“Williams is a great back,” said Gruden. “He’s having a great camp. Last year he had a back [injury] one day, he had a rib [injury] the other day and another back strain. This year he’s totally healthy and he’s making some wicked cuts. I’m really happy with the progress he’s made in the passing game, not only as a receiver but as a protector.
Tampa Bay’s ground attack ranked 28th in the NFL in 2006. As a result, the offense scored just 20 touchdowns and ranked 29th in the league.
The Bucs believe Williams can single-handedly help the team’s offense improve this season.
“It all starts there with him. If he’s Cadillac Williams, we’re going to have one heck of a running game and a much better offensive team.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY Bucs head coach Jon Gruden when asked what the biggest surprise of training camp was a week into it:
“We don’t really have a lot of boisterous guys. We’ve got a business attitude, not a lot of idle chatter going on out there from the start of practice until the end. These guys are focused. There are not a lot of real loud characters. It’s kind of a quiet, businesslike performance everyday. I do like it.”
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