The Headline From Camp Today

The Bucs held their third practice of the 2021 season at the AdventHealth Training Center on Tuesday, July 27. Bucs veteran wide receiver Antonio Brown was a latecomer to the first two practices as he recovers from offseason knee surgery in May. But Brown showed up early on Tuesday and was integrated into the team’s individual receiver drills for the first time in training camp after being a bystander the first two days.

Although Brown did not participate in team drills and was just limited to working individually with the receivers, he looked like a man that is driven. You could tell that he was excited to be out there, as Brown bounced all over the place to begin practice. During one drill he caught a pass by the sideline in front of the fans and fired up the crowd to raucous applause. Next, he ran a crossing route in the end zone, made the catch and emphatically yelled at the top of his lungs, “Let’s f*****g go!” The Bucs might slowly bring Brown back into the fold, but he looks ready to go.

Bucs Players Out Of Practice

Bucs starting free safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. returned to practice on Tuesday after missing Monday’s practice due to a false positive COVID test. New reserve safety Raven Greene missed a third straight practice due to personal reasons. Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians said Greene’s absence was excused on Sunday when first asked about it. Bucs veteran defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh did not practice on Tuesday. Kicker Ryan Succop and wide receiver Chris Godwin also had the day off.

Bruce Arians said they’ll judge giving veterans a day off on a case-by-case basis with the sweltering. But today was about to be a half-day anyway, which is why you saw a player like Suh not dress.

“We judge it with all the barometers and everything we have before we get started with sports science,” Arians said. “Today was already geared up to be half a practice on two fields, go inside, come out and play on one field.

Bucs Practice Notes

Players finally caught punts to start practice, as the Bucs worked on their punt protection to open things up. To no surprise, Jaydon Mickens, Jaelon Darden and Scotty Miller handled the return duties. All three players caught every ball during their reps, and Mickens and Darden even made a reception while already holding a ball in their hand.

With Godwin out and Brown not participating after individuals, Tom Brady got to work with a number of different receivers. Second-year receiver Tyler Johnson stood out all morning. The chemistry between Brady and Johnson was on point as they connected for at least five receptions of 10 yards or more. It was an important showing for a player that is going to have to fight for playing time this year.

Brady’s best ball of the day came later in practice to another receiver he doesn’t throw to often – Cyril Grayson Jr. On this play, Grayson beat the defense deep down the field and laid it right in the bread basket for a touchdown between 40-50 yards. Grayson would have had another target far down the field on a pass from Blaine Gabbert, but he was not able to come down with it. He came up gingerly after the play, but shook it off.

Brady was quite vocal today. At one point Darden and Wirfs committed false starts right after one another, and Brady voiced his displeasure about everyone jumping offsides. In a surprise to no one, the mistakes were few and far between after that.

Darden has been the talk of training camp, but once again he was in the middle of both the good and the bad. Darden jumped offsides twice and was chewed out by Arians later in practice for not finishing his route in a 2-minute drive. But once again Darden was able to get open and make highlight-reel plays. The rookie is too good for the third and fourth-string players, and brings great competition against the starters, too.

One day after Washington head coach Jimmy Lake appeared on the Pewter Report Podcast, his former Washington players had an excellent day of practice. Joe Tryon continues to put his stamp on each practice, as he had a would-be sack during 11-on-11’s, with Vita Vea right there as well. Tryon then had a great pass rush starting on the right side, but cut inside to get in the face of Brady and force an errant throw. Each day he continues to build on his game.

Vea made his presence felt on that combo sack with Tryon, but it was his pursuit of a ball carrier that caught the coaches’ attention. Vea was able to track down Ronald Jones a couple yards down the field after a dump-off pass, holding the completion to a short gain. The speed of Vea had coaches and players yelling in disbelief on the sideline.

Carlton Davis was in the mix as well on Tuesday. He had a good pass breakup while covering Darden on a pass from Brady near the sidelines, and battled with Mike Evans for most of the day with both players winning some reps. There was one scary moment where Evans made the reception and a diving Davis landed on the back of his ankle. Evans stretched out for a bit with the trainers, but then seemed to be alright.

The heat has been a storyline early in camp, so Arians made an adjustment. About halfway through practice, Arians had the whole team go to the Advent Health Indoor Training Facility while the kickers attempted field goals. This simulated a halftime in the regular season, but it also helped make for a better second half of practice. Lavonte David was the lone player to remain outside the entirety of the simulation.

Rob Gronkowski had his best day of training camp after a quiet first two days. He made numerous receptions in coverage, including a touchdown during the two-minute drill in the latter half of practice.

Another tough day for Kyle Trask. The rookie had inconsistencies throwing the ball, often underthrowing his receivers, including an interception to corner Dee Delaney. He did have a nice deep ball down the left sideline to receiver Josh Pearson, and his wideouts dropped a few balls too.

The defensive line on the second field really showed up today. Jeremiah Ledbetter, who continues to have a solid start to camp, would’ve had a sack. Benning Potoa’e also got his hands up to bat down a ball in goal-to-go situation. Good pass rush push and a few stuffs by the young linemen trying to make the team rounded out the day.

With Succop taking the day off, punter Bradley Pinion was seen off to the right practicing field goal kicks. When it came time for the field goal portion of practice, it was all rookie Jose Borregales. He went seven of eight on attempts, his lone miss coming on the left hash about 30 yards out.

A day after Shaq Barrett practiced in a hoodie, two other outside linebackers were seen donning them as well. Quinton Bell and Joe Tryon tried out the look and it seemed to work well for them. The aforementioned Tryon had a would-be sack and strong pressure on Brady. Bell had solid pressure on the second field against rookie tackle Calvin Ashley as well.

Towards the conclusion of practice, the team did some situational work simulating clock stoppage. In walk-through speed, they practiced spiking the ball and calling quick timeouts after receptions. On one play in particular, Darden ran the wrong route and caught an earful from Blaine Gabbert. He corrected it the next play.

To finish up the day the team went through a hurry-up drill. On the first drive Brady led the team to a score from Gronkowski. Big receptions from Mike Evans – in tight coverage with Carlton Davis – and Gronk led the way.

Running the drill with the second group, Gabbert didn’t fare so well. His first drive was marred with – three – would-be sacks and two pass breakups, one from transitioning corner/safety Ross Cockrell.  The defense did have two offsides penalties that pushed Arians to use some profane language.

Gabbert’s second drive was a four-and-out that saw intended receiver Cyril Grayson go down on one play. He walked off on his own power. Robert Hainsey continued to get reps at center with the second line group.

Following the day’s session, Arians spoke about how pleased he was with how the players rebounded on Tuesday for a better second half of practice. What he was most happy with, though, was the way that defensive players stepped up, especially those playing on field two.

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About the Author: Matt Matera

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Horse (@horse)
4 months ago

Very good reporting Scott; you gave us a good idea as to what was going on.

scubog (@scubog)
Reply to  Horse
4 months ago

Folks should appreciate how hard it is to report on Training Camp practices and individual players’ performance since there is so much going on, especially with two fields. Of course, some in the media do little more than report the absentees. I’ll be there Saturday and Sunday and will share a few observations.