If you’ve been watching Hard Knocks, you can probably recall an opening scene where Gerald McCoy is telling a new teammate about the big Bucs flag that flies outside One Buc Place. What he explains to his teammate is that when that flag is flying, there will be a breeze at practice. But, when that flag is dead, it’s fixing be a hot one.

The flag was dead today.

On their first day back from Jacksonville, the Buccaneers were trying to make sure there was no drop off in focus or energy following their first win of 2017 on Thursday. That foundation was a little thrown off with some early scratches and cuts before practice even started. Early in the morning, offensive lineman Cole Gardner and cornerback Maurice Fleming were waived, and newcomers cornerback Vernon Harris and offensive tackle Austin Albrecht, were signed.

Jacquies Smith, Brent Grimes, Jude Adjei-Barimah, Demar Dotson, Josh Robinson, Kevin Pamphile, Caleb Benenoch and Peyton Barber were all no-go’s at practice today. However, Pamphile, Benenoch and Barber appeared to just be taking rest days.

As for those in uniform, here’s what we saw from them.

Linebackers Back

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At the start of camp, the linebackers looked handcuffed. They weren’t able to do what they needed to do with physicality to stand out, and their absence on playmaking was felt.

But, all that seems long gone. We saw linebacker Lavonte David have one heck of a first half on Thursday night, and today it was his running mate Kwon Alexander’s turn to make the plays.

Alexander said the biggest part of his game he wanted to work on in the offseason was being better in coverage. In the play above, he showed just how hard he’s been working on it.

Alexander followed up his interception later in the practice by being incredibly instinctive.

In the play above, there were two offensive linemen who did not have blocking assignments on the screen play and were free to take on anyone by the time the ball arrived. But, Alexander saw his chance and was able to weave right through them to make the stop.

Honestly, when you see instinctive plays like the one above, the more you have to think that the only thing standing in between Alexander and being one of the top linebackers in the entire NFL is experience. It’s only a matter of time.

But, Alexander wasn’t the only linebacker who stood out today. After a great substitute performance where he recorded six tackles in the third quarter alone, linebacker Ardarius Glanton picked up right where he left off, energy wise.

In the play above, Glanton did a great job of tracking where the runner was headed, got off his block quickly and made the hit – he even kept going and gave the running back a punch to the ball on the sideline. With Bond out, all linebackers have to step up; Glanton is doing his part.

The Offense Strikes Back

The defense started off dominating practice, but as things progressed, the offense gave them a few shots back.

The play above was more evidence to what we’ve seen lately and that is that the Bucs offensive play calling has been stellar thus far. Dirk Koetter and Todd Monken have cooked up some great game plans that have put the first team offense in great positions early on in games. Plays like the one above lend to that.

It was a screen play that had pre-snap movement to get the outside cornerback inside once they knew it was man coverage, it had wide receiver routes going in directions that would free up space, and it was well blocked. The offense won that round.

Evans missed a touchdown on Thursday with a beautiful pass from Winston going through his hands.

On Saturday he was out for revenge, and got himself a touchdown with an impressive celebration at the end.

Finally, we have to point out some good from Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has had plenty of struggles so far.

The play above was a perfectly executed wheel route to the corner of the end zone to running back Charles Sims. Both of those players needed that play after some lackluster performances on Thursday night.

From the Notepad

  • Former Bucs Super Bowl Champion Simeon Rice was out at practice today. He was working one-on-one with Noah Spence after practice, and was impressed with some of what Spence could do.
  • On a side note, Rice looked to be in phenomenal shape. He looks like he could go out there and get a sack or two right now.
  • With Pamphile out, Evan Smith was the starting right left guard. That’s important because if Dotson is to miss serious time, Pamphile might kick out to right tackle and Smith would likely fill in as a starter at guard.
  • The team seems to value receivers Josh Huff and Freddie Martino the most out of those receivers not in the Top 4 (Evans, Jackson, Humphries and Godwin).
  • Linebacker Kendell Beckwith was double dipping today as the starting SAM linebacker and the second team MIKE linebacker.
  • Clinton McDonald continues to be a consistent success on the interior. We know Baker was the big signing, and right now he’s the starter alongside McCoy, but watch out for McDonald. He’s not going anywhere and will be in that rotation.

From the Stands: Fan Spotlight

OK, we’ve done some pretty great fan spotlight stories so far, but this one, which somehow turned out to be part three in a series, might take the cake.

Earlier in training camp we not only saw McCoy sign someone’s baby, but a week after we also saw Winston do the same. On Saturday, things went to a whole new level when rookie defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu sign someone’s unborn baby!

As the woman was waiting for Tu’ikolovatu to come around, she yelled out, “you have to sign me belly,” and Tu’ikolovatu responded with, “only if you sign mine.”

It was a funny scene. The mother of the soon-to-be-born daughter was so excited to be able to show her girl the pictures one day.

We’ll be back at it tomorrow, but at the regular start time of 8:45 a.m.

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: trevor@pewterreport.com
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3 years ago

Good stuff! Good report.

Everyone, check out the interview with Simeon at the Bucs site. Really fun! Neat comments about (and advice he got from) “Mean Joe” Greene and “Chucky” and of course how he saw himself. I loved him then and still do now. Interesting insights and comments about Noah Spence.

I am even more psyched for this season! Got tickets to next Saturday’s game.

Go Bucs!!!!

Ghost in the Ruins
3 years ago

Nice read and breakdown, but if I can make one suggestion: Please proofread and spell check the first paragraph.

3 years ago

Rice was always a cool dude. Enjoyed hearing him talk but half the time I couldn’t figure out what he hell he was saying or meant but it sounded good. Lol. One hell of a DE for sure. One of our best free agent moves. Remember how everyone said he can’t play the run at all before he came here?