After watching kickers Matt Bryant and Todd France struggle throughout the first week of training camp, Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden has been pleased with France’s ability to get on – and maintain – a hot streak.

In fact, including the Tuesday morning practice, France has now drilled 31 straight field goal attempts.

“It’s 31 for 31,” Gruden said of France. “That’s pretty good. The last I checked, that’s pretty good. I think, too, having been in Europe, getting accustomed to a new holder is a process in itself. [Josh] Bidwell’s doing a good job; I think Bidwell is a very good holder. He puts the ball down precisely. Dave Moore hasn’t been snapping lately because of his finger. This young kid [Brian] Sawyer has come in here and fired it back there pretty good. And France is on a roll right now. These aren’t just extra points; some of these are bombs from the 44, 48, 50-yard area. He’s been good from all hashes.”

Although he’s been impressed, Gruden attempted to throw France off a bit during Tuesday morning’s practice by having his players yell and simulate crowd noise while France attempted his field goals.

“You try to simulate pressure,” Gruden said. “You challenge the team to get involved in that, and they’re spirited. They all know that this is an area that we have got to make a dramatic improvement in. If this guy can come through or if it’s Matt Bryant, so be it. But we need to make dramatic improvement in our field-goal accuracy, and so far we like what we’ve seen out here in the last four or five days from both of them. But Todd France has definitely stood out.”

Gruden also credited Bidwell for his ability to hold on each kicker’s field goal attempt.

“I do think the holds have been great,” said Gruden. “Bidwell with his experience and working with these guys privately between drills has paid off. I’ve been impressed with Josh’s ability to put it down, spin the laces properly and get to know how Todd wants the ball placed. There’s a lot more to it than just putting it on the ground and holding the ball. It’s been a combination of France’s excellence and he’s had some help.”

Tampa Bay is slowly but surely getting healthier as its preseason game against the Tennessee Titans nears.

Center Scott Jackson (hand) and tackle Kenyatta Walker (knee) both practiced on Tuesday. Bucs T Sam Lightbody also returned to practice.

However, there are a few players, including T Derrick Deese (ankle), fullback Rick Razzano (hamstring) and guards Matt Stinchcomb and Dan Buenning, who don’t stand a good chance of playing in Friday night’s exhibition game.

Cornerback Brian Kelly left practice early on Tuesday morning due to dehydration.

Tampa Bay sported shorts, jerseys and helmets for both of its practices on Tuesday. The Bucs spent a good portion of the afternoon workout preparing for its game against Tennessee before severe weather cut the practice short by almost an hour.

According to Gruden, his players have seen enough of each other on the practice field and are ready to clash with another team.

“It feels like we’re ready to play somebody else,” said Gruden. “I’m sure Tennessee feels the same way. Obviously, we took the pads off this morning. We’ve got a number of situations on the offensive line. But we still got a lot of quality work done and we are ready to play a game. Let some of these young players play and showcase what they’ve learned and where they are.”


Bucs head coach Jon Gruden on dropped passes over the past two days of practice:/i>
“We had a couple drops today. This is not dodgeball. You’ve got to catch it. You’ve got to catch it. You’ve got to catch the football. Forget about the routine plays, we need to make some great plays, some splash plays. [Michael] Clayton made a couple of those today, [Joey] Galloway’s been delivering those for us, as has [Ike] Hilliard. But we need our backs, our tight ends and our other skill people to pick it up.”

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