The Tampa Bay Buccaneers held two practices on Monday. The team sported full pads in the morning and held a special teams workout in the afternoon.
C JACKSON BREAKS HAND, FB RAZZANO OUT AT LEAST A WEEK: Cornerback Juran Bolden (abdominal strain), fullback Rick Razzano (hamstring), tackle Derrick Deese (ankle sprain), wide receiver Larry Brackins, linebacker Jeff Gooch (hamstring) and running back Jacque Lewis (hamstring) were held out of Monday’s workouts.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said Razzano would be sidelined at least seven more days with the hamstring injury he sustained during the team’s first training camp practice.
During the morning practice, center Scott Jackson suffered a fractured wrist. He’ll be out indefinitely.
Tampa Bay activated offensive lineman Kevin Fischer, who is expected to compete at tackle and long snapper, from the physically unable to perform list on Monday. Running back Charlie Garner and Brackins remain on the PUP.
Cornerback Brian Kelly returned to practice on Monday morning after missing both of Sunday’s workouts with a virus.
KICKING WOES CONTINUE: Tampa Bay kickers Matt Bryant and Todd France improved a bit on Monday, but they still have plenty of room for improvement.
That was apparent Monday morning after the kickers went 8-of-11 on their field goal attempts, including 1-of-3 in “sudden change” drills, which occurred when Bucs head coach Jon Gruden called for the team to attempt a field goal with a moment’s notice.
“I think we were 1-of-3 in that ‘sudden change’ period, but during the special teams period I think we were 7-of-8,” said Gruden” “But we want to make them all. Guys in this league, the guys who are in the forefront of the league, are kicking into the 90 percentile. And it’s kind of ironic that those teams played in the Super Bowl.”
Although Bryant entered camp as the leading candidate to win the starting kicking job, Gruden suggested the Bucs were prepared to take drastic measures in order to solidify the kicking position.
“It’s awful early to tell,” Gruden said when asked if he felt the kicker for the Bucs this season was on Tampa Bay’s roster right now. “We might kick field goals on first down in preseason games to get some more kicks, and I’m being serious.”
The Bucs are not ruling out the possibility of searching the waiver wire for another kicker should Bryant and France continue to be inconsistent.
“We’re going to be as aggressive as we can be,” Gruden said. “Once again, you have to temper your enthusiasm based on the salary cap. It’s easier said than done. But we’re going to look at every guy who’s available. Fortunately, [general manager] Bruce [Allen] has done a good job with the salary cap. We are in a position soon here to go after some guys who we covet.”
OFFENSIVE LINE IMPROVING: On Monday, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden gave his impressions of how the offensive line was shaping up in training camp thus far.
“I’m really pleased with Anthony Davis, the work he’s doing,” said Gruden. “He’s getting better. He’s going to make things interesting, I think. [Dan] Buenning has had a very good start. [Chris] Colmer in pads has improved. He still has a ways to go to master what we want done. [Sean] Mahan has had a very good camp. I’ve been pleased with our guard play – Buenning, [Matt] Stinchcomb and Mahan particularly have played well. Jeb Terry has had his spots. But all four of those guys have had their moments.”
BUCS TAKING CARE OF THE FOOTBALL: Tampa Bay is focusing on limiting its turnovers on offense. Last season, the Bucs lost 18 fumbles and 18 interceptions for a total of 36 turnovers while creating 27 on defense.
When the Bucs won the Super Bowl in 2002, they finished the season with a plus-18 turnover ratio. Last season, the Bucs had a minus-9 turnover ratio en route to going 5-11.
With limiting turnovers a point of emphasis, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden has been pleased with his offense’s ability to take care of the football in training camp.
“I’ve been very pleased,” Gruden said. “Interceptions have not been seen very often around here. We’ve had two fumbles today, one on a bad exchange. You can’t fault Earnest Graham for that. Yesterday, we had one fumble, and in seven practices we’ve had one fumble by our running backs. That’s a start. Mike Pittman has zero, and he’s carried the ball quite a bit. That’s been a point of emphasis. We drilled it through the offseason. We started two or three practices with anti-turnover drills and so far I’ve been very pleased with that aspect of our team.”
Pittman, who lost an NFL-high six fumbles last season, said he worked all offseason with running backs coach Art Valero on remedying that problem.
“Yeah, last year I was holding the ball very loose and I don’t know the reason why it was just careless ball handling on my part,” said Pittman. “This year I have been working with Art, my running back coach, really early back in March on different ball drills, holding the ball, cone drills cutting with the ball in my hand, and keeping the ball right against my rib cage with my fingertips over the point. Last year with me holding the ball, my fingertips weren’t over the point and that would have the tip open where people could really knock the ball out of my hand so I have really been working on that and hopefully I eliminated that out of my play this year.”
BUCS HOLD AFTERNOON SPECIAL TEAMS PRACTICE: Tampa Bay held its first special teams workout of the 2005 training camp on Monday afternoon.
The Bucs lost their top three special teams tacklers from a year ago – linebacker Keith Burns, John Howell and Corey Ivy – this offseason to free agency.
Head coach Jon Gruden said Monday that the team is counting on some of its younger players to help fill the voids left on special teams by the three departed veterans.
“I’ll go knock on Ryan Nece’s door here pretty soon,” said Gruden. “Nece is a great special teams player here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he became a captain here. He’s got to be great for us. Some of these young guys have to come in here and help us out. We’ve got some young linebackers like Marquis Cooper, who can run like hell and tackle, and he should be dynamite on special teams. The same thing goes for Will Allen. We’ve got some candidates, but when you talk about replacing a guy like Keith Burns and Corey Ivy and Dwight Smith, those were great players for us, not only as football players, but as special teamers.”
Tampa Bay could also look to some starters, including middle linebacker Shelton Quarles and cornerbacks Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly, to contribute on special teams again this season.
“We don’t really have the whole team etched out in terms of who’s starting, but we’ll have some guys who are projected as starters contributing on special teams,” said Gruden.
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