The intensity of Tampa Bay’s training camp was taken to another level Sunday morning when the players sported full pads for the first time since camp opened on July 29.
“It’s a lot different,” said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. “These guys understand that they play the game in pads. Your conditioning is tested and you can get a chance to find out quickly where you are as a football team, because that’s how the game is played. We’ll be in shorts this afternoon and we’ll be back in pads tomorrow morning.”
Several players stepped up to the challenge of meeting the physical demand the pads bring to any given practice, including first-round draft pick Carnell Williams.
“Number 24 did (step up),” Gruden said. “He made some great plays in the hole and coming out of the trash. I was really impressed with him. I felt (tight ends) Anthony Becht and Alex Smith really made their presence felt. A lot of guys practiced pretty well today for their first time in pads. I thought (guard) Dan Buenning did some good things. I don’t get a chance to see the defense as much until I study the tape. We’ll see.”
The Bucs wore shorts, jerseys and helmets during Sunday afternoon’s workout. That will be the routine throughout the rest of training camp.
KICkERS STRUGGLE DURING MORNING PRACTICE: Putting pads on didn’t necessarily make Tampa Bay’s players perform better.
On Sunday morning, the Bucs struggled in an area that cost the team big last year – the kicking game. Kickers Matt Bryant and Todd France missed several field goals, which has made head coach Jon Gruden, who watched his team finish dead last in the NFL in field goal kicking percentage over the past two seasons, concerned.
“It wasn’t very good,” Gruden said of the kicking game. “It’s an area that we’ve obviously got to do a lot better than that. We took a step back today. It’s been very positive for us to this point, but today just shows you we’ve got a lot of work to do. I wasn’t pleased with the snaps either, or the holds or the protection. So it wasn’t just the kicker.”
Second-year guard Jeb Terry was long snapping in place of Dave Moore during the field goal session, and some of his snaps were off the mark.
“He’s getting ready to do that,” said Gruden. “Dave Moore is going to snap, but you have to have a contingency plan if something were to happen to Dave. He got hurt late last year and Ken Dilger did the snapping. Dilger isn’t here, so we have to have a backup snapper and Jeb is that guy right now.
“He’s been pretty good. His short snaps have been up and down. As a backup, we think he’s pretty good right now.”
BUCS SIGN T LIGHTBODY, RELEASE OL WATTON: The Bucs made two roster moves Sunday, signing tackle Sam Lightbody and releasing guard/center Chris Watton.
The 6-foot-9, 325-pound Lightbody was a second-team All-Pac 10 member and team captain during his senior season at Washington State. He was a two-year starter for the Cougars.
Watton originally joined Tampa Bay on June 16.
TEMPERS FLARE DURING MORNING PRACTICE:
With pads came heated tempers. During an 11-on-11 drill on Sunday morning, Bucs defensive end Dewayne White and rookie tight end Alex Smith had a skirmish at midfield until several coaches and players broke it up.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden liked the intensity of his team’s first practice in pads, but he didn’t condone the fight between White and Smith.
“We lost Shelton Quarles for several weeks because of a skirmish that occurred late after the whistle,” said Gruden. We addressed that. There’s going to be periods where men are men and tempers flare. We expect our players to resolve their differences.”
BUCS WELCOME ALUMNI TO TRAINING CAMP: Tampa Bay welcomed several Buccaneer alumni to Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex for Sunday morning’s practice.
“We try to do that,” said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. “We’ve done that like once a year. We try to keep the local alumni involved any way we can. Now that we have a Super Bowl trophy in our closest hopefully we’ll see some of those guys roll back in here. I think it’s a message that needs to speak loud and clear currently to our football team. Once you’re a Buc you’re always a Buc. We’d like to have you back eventually at some point, even if we can’t afford you under the cap. That’s the best I can do right now. I traded a lot of Buc alumni. I do my best to bring them back.”
Former Bucs Tony Mayberry, Scott Brantley, Kenny Gant, Richard Wood, Jeff Carlson, Eric Hayes, TyJi Armstrong and Mark Cotney were among the alumni in attendance.
GATOR-ADES TAMPA BAY: All of Tampa Bay’s training camp workouts have been held in extremely hot and humid temperatures, which has caused several players to perspire more than they and the team would like.
That problem prompted the Bucs to bring Gatorade out to training camp to conduct studies that might help remedy some of the players’ perspiration problems.
“We had the Gatorade people here today,” said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. “We brought some specialists here. We have about seven or eight guys who have had a persistent problem with weight loss and sweating. Weight is one of them. They’re going to hook them up to these wires and do some real intense studies on guys like John Wade. They’re working to find out what the problem is because when you play quarterback with John Wade at center, it’s a wet ball drill. This guys sweats., and we’re going to try and get that resolved.”
INJURY REPORT: Running back Jacque Lewis, fullback Rick Razzano and wide receiver Larry Brackins are still sidelined with hamstring injuries. Each player is listed as day-to-day.
Bucs WR Joey Galloway was held out of the morning workout as a precaution. He participated during the afternoon practice.
Left tackle Derrick Deese missed Sunday’s practices due to a foot sprain. Cornerback Brian Kelly missed both workouts with a virus. He’s expected to return to practice on Monday morning.
YOUNG WRs SEPARATING THEMSELVES: Bucs head coach Jon Gruden has been pleased with how some of the younger receivers have started to separate themselves from some of the other competition in camp.
“I think Edell Shepherd is making a nice comeback,” said Gruden. “J.R. Russell is making plays. It’s awkward at times. His routes aren’t totally refined, but he’s big and deceptively fast. (Kevin) Younglbood might be one guy that’s made more leaps and bounds than any player on our roster in terms of picking up the system and making some plays. I’ve been impressed with him. There’s a lot of other guys that are on the radar screen now. We’ll see where they are a week or so from now.”
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 spent six years 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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