The Headline From Camp Today: Bucs Sloppy In “Worst Offensive Practice In 3 Years”
The Bucs returned to practice at the AdventHealth Training Center on Monday morning after having Sunday off, but perhaps the offense didn’t get the memo. On a day where Tom Brady saw more limited reps, the unit was sloppy while the defense dominated practice.
“Really good practice defensively,” Arians said. “I thought it was one of our best start-to-finish practices defensively. And it would probably be the worst offensive practice we’ve had in three years. It’s a pattern of behavior now. After a day off, the offense just stinks. They need to break that habit. Defensively, they really came out and dominated the entire practice. It was good to see.”
The Bucs defense flew around making plays, as they have so often over the past two weeks. Will Gholston had several tackles-for-loss on the day, and Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Pat O’Connor and Joe Tryon added tallies of their own. Even Cam Gill and Quinton Bell, fresh off their return to practice, bested the third team OL to drop Ke’Shawn Vaughn for a minimal gain. The Bucs rushing attack got free a few times late in the session, but the starting defense has dominated run periods during camp.
Bucs TE O.J. Howard – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Bucs passing attack was more crisp at times, but mistakes were plentiful too. O.J. Howard dropped a few catchable balls, and even Rob Gronkowski dropped one on air. Mike Evans let a Tom Brady-pass go through his hands on an in-breaking route, and Cody McElroy dropped one soon after.
At one point in practice, Brady had receivers drop three straight passes. Jaelon Darden couldn’t corral a short pass, then Tyler Johnson dropped one despite being wide open underneath. On “third down” Brady stepped up wonderfully to escape pressure, but Leonard Fournette couldn’t handle a soft throw underneath. The back had plenty of room to work with as well.
When asked what the issue was with the offense, Arians placed the responsibility on the players – where it should be.
“Ask them,” Arians said. “They can’t be warned more than every week. Dropped passes, missed assignments on basic plays. It was just a lack of concentration.”
Brady was crisp for most of the practice, but seemed to get less reps than he normally did. Gabbert received more opportunities with the first team offense, while Ryan Griffin got some reps with the second team. But none of the quarterbacks, including Trask, were disappointing on Monday. It was mostly skill position players who seemed to be struggling.
“Back in the day we’d be out here running the shit out of them,” Arians said. “But that doesn’t work anymore. You go to jail for that stuff now. They just gotta grow up and man up. It’s been identified. So you gotta fix it. I’m not gonna fix it, you gotta fix it.”
Bucs Players Out Of Practice
Rookie center Robert Hainsey remains out of practice. Hainsey, the team’s third-round pick, has now missed five practices in a row, dating back to last Tuesday. Defensive tackle Sam Renner was out, and wide receiver Cyril Grayson also continued to miss practice due to his pulled hamstring.
On a positive note, second-year outside linebackers Cam Gill and Quinton Bell returned to practice after missing time last week. Gill had missed over a week with an undisclosed injury. Bell missed a couple of practices. Both were full participants. OT Donovan Smith also returned to practice after missing the last two sessions due to personal reasons.
Bucs Practice Notes
• The Bucs safeties have been the biggest revelation of training camp. Antoine Winfield looks ready to take the next step, and Jordan Whitehead has been a turnover machine in practices. Add in Ross Cockrell’s stunning play at a new position, and it’s been an exciting camp.
Bucs FS Mike Edwards – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
But Mike Edwards has been as impressive as anyone not named Cockrell. The playmaking free safety broke on a dig route to intercept Gabbert during the first team session, taking the ball back for a touchdown. Later in practice, Edwards broke on the same pattern, nearly intercepting a Brady throw. He also made a “touchdown-saving” tackle on Ronald Jones after the running back hit a nasty spin move on Winfield in the open field.
Good luck to Todd Bowles trying to figure out how to get all these safeties on the field this season.
• What a practice for Giovani Bernard. He picked up Devin White twice in pass protection, eliminating blitzes to give Brady time to throw. The veteran also caught everything thrown his way, including a couple screen passes and a pass from Brady for a touchdown in 7-on-7. Bernard’s ability to flex outside and run routes will be something to look for this season. He’s been featured more and more as camp has gone on. The Bucs are thrilled about what he brings to the team.
The more training camp goes on, it feels like we are inching toward a Ronald Jones-Giovani Bernard backfield.
• It’s been a quiet training camp for Shaq Barrett, but that might tell us more about Tristan Wirfs than anything else. The second-year offensive tackle has been dominant in one-on-ones and, more importantly, in 11-on-11s. Wirfs looks ready to build on his exceptional rookie season after locking up everyone during camp.
• Can’t say enough about how good Alex Cappa has looked. In one-on-ones, no Bucs defensive tackle has won a single rep against him in the past several sessions. His technique and strength have come so far. One of the most improved players in the league over the past couple seasons.
• Brady had some dimes today, but the best throw was a seam shot to O.J. Howard that hit the receiver right in stride. Grant Stuard was defending on the play, and had no shot at breaking up the perfect throw.
Bucs OL Nick Leverett – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
• Nick Leverett ran with the second team at left and right tackle, playing exceptionally well at both spots. He rode a Barrett dip-and-rip attempt up the arc to give Gabbert time on one throw, showing off some athleticism. If Leverett can play four offensive line spots well during the preseason, he’ll lock up the ninth OL spot quickly.
• Sean Murphy-Bunting has not been targeted often during camp, but he continues to play his best football in press man. He made an outstanding adjustment to break up a deep back-shoulder throw from Brady to Chris Godwin during Monday’s practice. Murphy-Bunting hasn’t been dominant, but he’s rarely victimized in practice either.
• It was a good day for Kyle Trask, as he threw a few underneath touchdowns in the red zone during 7-on-7, making quick, decisive reads. Later in practice, Trask uncorked a deep ball for Josh Pearson, who adjusted to make the catch on a solid throw from the rookie. After a few rough practices, Trask looked much more composed on Monday.
• The first team offense didn’t look terrible during most of practice, but the way they finished probably left a bad taste in Arians’ mouth. During a 3-play series in the red zone to close out practice, Brady had his first throw knocked down at the line of scrimmage by Vita Vea. On the second play, a swing pass to Antonio Brown was stopped immediately by Carlton Davis. With one play remaining, Rakeem Nunez-Roches devoured a Jones’ run for a loss. Not a great session for the starting offense.
Bucs K Jose Borregales – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
• Ok, Jose Borregales! After hitting kicks from 32 and 36 yards during a field goal block session, the kicker nailed one from 59 yards out. Borregales has had a great camp to earn his expected spot on the practice squad.
• If I’m guessing right now, Leverett wins the ninth offensive line spot, Antonio Hamilton grabs the fifth cornerback, K.J. Britt earns the fourth inside linebacker and Javon Hagan has the clear inside track for the fourth safety spot. Of course, the team may only keep three true safeties, with Cockrell impressing at that position as well. If Cam Gill can stay healthy, he’ll push for the team to keep four outside linebackers.
None of the depth cornerbacks – Nate Brooks, Dee Delaney, Herb Miller, Cameron Kinley, Chris Wilcox or Antonio Hamilton have impressed. Hamilton is a special teams standout and has been the best of the six defensively, so expect him to replace Ryan Smith this season.
So far in camp, free agent signings Joe Jones and Raven Greene have not impressed. We’ll see what happens in preseason action.