The Bruce Arians era got underway at AdventHealth Training Center at One Buccaneer Place on Tuesday, with the Bucs’ first mini-camp practice of 2019. There weren’t any rah-rah speeches, and it was a fairly subdued practice compared to what we have seen in year’s past. There was no music or dancing on this warm afternoon in Tampa, and it was clear from the beginning the new staff wants to drill fundamentals – at least early in the practice.
Arians was doing his best Bear Bryant impression, riding around in a golf cart, and observing his coaches working with the players. There were also very few raised voices under the afternoon Tampa sky that checked in at 83 degrees when practice started.
Even the offensive line coaches – Joe Gilbert and Harold Goodwin – weren’t ranting and raving like one would see from most O-line coaches. Absent from the offensive line group were starting tackles Donovan Smith and Demar Dotson. Those weren’t the only notable absences during the team’s first voluntary mini-camp, as defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul were also no-shows on Tuesday.
Early in practice, after the interior offensive line had worked on some unit drills, Gilbert took Cappa to the side and worked with him one-on-one for about 10 minutes. They appeared to be working on hand placement and driving through the defender using his lower body as well as have a balanced base.
Balls were flying all over the field from the very start, but they weren’t footballs. Instead, it was a number of volleyballs were used in early drills with the theme being “attacking the ball.”
The defensive line was divided into two groups, with one group working on splitting double teams, while the other group was pushing the sled and shedding to swat the ball. Both groups had to swat a thrown volleyball down as they got off their block (or sled), simulating a quick throw from the quarterback.
Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles must have gotten sick watching Saints quarterback Drew Brews pick the Bucs apart last season when the reviewed film of the last few years. A slow developing pass rush, combined with a quarterback who gets rid of the ball on his third backpedal step is a nightmare, and it was clear the Buccaneers defense wants to try and disrupt Brees and other quick release quarterbacks in 2019 with at the very least contested throwing lanes.
It wasn’t just the defense that was practicing batting down balls. Tampa Bay’s coaching staff spent a good part of practice working on field goal blocks with players diving on mats to block volleyballs thrown up to simulate a field goal kick.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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