The Tampa Bay Buccaneers held their third and fourth training camp practices on Saturday morning at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
So far, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden has been pleased with his team’s effort and performance on the practice fields.
“We had a very good practice today,” said Gruden. “I was very pleased with it. We’re off to a good start.”
Although it’s been extremely hot and humid, the weather has cooperated and allowed the Bucs to get in plenty of reps during all three workouts.
“We’re getting in as many reps as I’ve ever been associated with,” said Gruden. “The tempo is phenomenal. We’ve just got to continue to refine our play.”
Gruden said his players would only benefit from the fast-paced environment that training camp presents.
“It’s about putting mental pressure on them,” said Gruden. “The less time they have to collaborate with their coaches and teammates, the more pressure is on them. It’s much more game-like. If you’re running 10 or 12 plays a day, and you’re talking about one play for 15 minutes before you run it, a lot of us could do the right thing. It’s about reacting and split-second notice, and functioning at top speed when the heat is on. That’s what we’re trying to apply right now.”
INJURY UPDATE: The Bucs escaped their third and fourth training camp practices with a limited amount of injuries.
Rookie fullback Rick Razzano and running back Jacque Lewis were sidelined during both practices on Saturday with hamstring injuries. They’ll be listed as day-to-day. Wide receiver Joey Galloway went through warm-ups but sat out of the morning practice as a precaution. He participated during the afternoon workout without incident. Guard Jeb Terry was limited during the afternoon practice due to a minor knee injury. Linebackers Derrick Brooks, Shelton Quarles and Jeff Gooch were held out of Saturday afternoon’s practice as part of the team’s plan to keep them fresh and healthy.
Rookie WR Larry Brackins was held out of Saturday’s workouts with a hamstring injury. His injury is being monitored closely, as are the other hamstring injuries suffered by Razzano and Lewis.
“Hamstrings are mysterious to me,” said Gruden. I’ve seen those things heal in 48 hours and linger for months. His has lingered on, and for that reason it’s very mysterious. It’s just like Pearl River (Community College), man.”
BUCS RELEASE DEPTH CHART: Tampa Bay released its first depth chart of the offseason. Bucs head coach Jon Gruden suggested things could change on the depth chart from time to time, depending on injuries and performance.
“That’s a piece of paper that helps us get rotations going,” said Gruden. “It’s a lot like picking teams in the backyard. Sometimes I get picked first and sometimes I get picked last, and we’re going to try and continue to do that throughout camp.”
To view the Bucs’ current depth chart, click here.
RUNNING WILD: One of the main points of emphasis for Tampa Bay’s offense will be improving its running game, which ranked 29th in the NFL last season.
Although the Bucs believe they’ll improve in that category with the addition of Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, head coach Jon Gruden said the team must put itself in a position to run the ball more, period.
“We were 28th in the league in rushing attempts last season,” said Gruden. “The teams that run the ball at the top of the league run the ball a lot more than we do. And if we’re going to run the ball more we’ve got to get better results. I only go the beach when it’s sunny, okay? I only go shopping when my wife gives me some money. We don’t want to be window shoppers. We want to be able to go out there and run the ball, run it with authority and success, and with that will come more opportunities.”
Gruden has installed more running plays and drills in this year’s training camp, and he said people can expect to see more running plays throughout camp and preseason, and of course, the regular season.
“We’ve had a lot more running plays than normal,” said Gruden. “Again, I want to try and find out where we are in the first couple of weeks during the preseason and as we head into the regular season.”
Gruden is also excited about the depth Tampa Bay has at the running back position in training camp this year.
“That’s something we’re really excited about,” said Gruden. “With Charlie Garner over here running the way he is, those are three halfbacks that we think a lot of. I think Earnest Graham is a much better player than people know about. He’s paid his dues here, and he’s a playmaker. Ian Smart is quick as hell and he can play a little bit, too. And this Derek Watson is one good-looking stallion. He’s a physical load. (Mike) Alstott can still run and catch. Jameel Cook is an all-purpose back, so Rick Razzano better get healthy. That’s the way I see it.”
TAMPA BAY BRINGS IN THREE COACHES FOR CAMP: The Buccaneers have added former NFL players, tight end Eric Green, guard James Jones and running back Richie Anderson, to their staff as members of the NFL Minority Internship Program. All three of them will remain with the Bucs throughout training camp.
QUARTERBACKS PROGRESSING NICELY: It’s early, but Bucs head coach Jon Gruden has been pleased with what he’s seen from his quarterbacks thus far.
“I like it a lot,” said Gruden. “We gave Chris Simms a lot of the work today, especially in blitz periods and things of that nature. We have a long ways to go, but we’re getting better.”
Gruden said starting QB Brian Griese was much further along now than he was this time last year when he was taking third-string reps.
“It ain’t even close,” said Gruden. “When you have a chance to play a golf course 10, 20 or 30 times, you have a tendency to know which club to hit the next time. He’s a very smart guy. He’s deadly accurate. His leadership is more natural now. His charisma is coming out with the team because he knows them and they know him.”
Although Griese was signed during the offseason to be the starter this season, Tampa Bay expects Simms to push Griese for the starting job.
‘Chris is going to compete to be a starter,” said Gruden. “That’s just the way it’s got to be. This is his third season. Chris has to compete with Griese. And Luke McCown has to compete to make this team. That’s the image I want them to have. I don’t want anyone to settle on competing for the third-string job or the second-string job when they’re the backup. They’ve got to be prepared to play as the starter. Chris is making great strides and Luke McCown has a ways to go. This is a totally different system than he’s ever been associated with. He does have raw ability. He’s an intense, raw, intelligent guy who is making strides.”
WALKER TRYING TO LET PLAY SPEAK FOR ITSELF: Rumors suggesting Tampa Bay right tackle Kenyatta Walker could become a salary cap casualty during the offseason didn’t come to fruition. In fact, Walker is still lining up as the team’s starting right tackle.
With the 2005 season scheduled to be Walker’s last in Tampa Bay unless he’s re-signed, Walker seems to have plenty of motivation heading into this season.
“I’m just trying to win some more games this year,” said Walker. “We’re just trying to be higher than 29th in rushing. I’ve got to do better than last year. I’m going to let all of you write and I’m going to do my job. I wasn’t supposed to be here right now if you go by what the reporters said. I’m just out here trying to get better. I couldn’t really go this offseason, but the knee is doing good. Now I’m trying to help this team win games.”
PADS COME ON SUNDAY: After four straight practices in shorts, jerseys and helmets, the Buccaneers will sport pads on Sunday morning for the first time in this year’s training camp.
“It’s been a long time,” said Gruden. “We’ve put in plenty of time during the offseason, plenty of OTAs. I think we’re ready for pads.”
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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