Halfway through Tampa Bay’s Sunday morning practice, reserve guard Toniu Fonoti sprained an ankle and had to be carted off the field. Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden didn’t know how bad the injury was when he discussed the injury with the media following the morning workout.

“I think he sprained his ankle,” Gruden said. “I don’t know the severity of it. He might be back this afternoon, or he might be out. I don’t know.”

Right tackle Kenyatta Walker missed his fourth day of practice while he battles knee pain and discomfort. Left tackle Torrin Tucker was walking without having his right knee wrapped today, but was still held out. Tucker has now missed at least four days of practice. Defensive end Charles Bennett continues to rehab his strained hamstring that has kept him out for a week.

Receiver David Boston and nose tackle Chris Hovan sat out today’s practice for precautionary reasons. Running back Michael Pittman (tooth) and tight end Alex Smith (hamstring) returned to practice. Free safety Will Allen was at practice with a cast on his left hand after his thumb surgery, but was not participating.

Gruden was pleased with certain aspects of Sunday’s morning practice, but there were some areas that troubled Tampa Bay’s head coach. The wide receivers got the upper hand on the defensive backs in 1-on-1 drills in addition to 7-on-7 drills and quarterback Chris Simms was razor sharp today. That pleased Gruden, but what naturally irked him was the sub-par play of the cornerbacks and safeties.

“It was pretty good really,” Gruden said of the two-hour practice. “There were certain things that were very good and certain things were not very good. I thought we had good energy. I thought our defense looked great in the blitz period. We had some indecision and some confusion at times in the blitz period. I thought towards the end, the offense got their act together and responded quite well. Simms threw the ball great today. We had some very good work in the passing element from an offensive standpoint. Defensively, we have to do a much better job than I saw today in that period.

“From an offensive standpoint, yeah . You don’t like that [from a defensive standpoint]. If you’re going to play man-to-man on defense, you’ve got to cover. You’ve got to cover better than that. Our defense knows that. We have too much pride around here for that to happen. We had some good routes and Simms threw the ball tremendously today. I have mixed emotions.”

The Buccaneers are departing from their normal practice schedule by holding their afternoon practice at the Coronado Springs Resort instead of Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex. The practice, which is likely to be a walk-through, is closed to the public and the media. Gruden discussed his reasons for the secretive practice to the media on Sunday morning.

“I have a lot of reasons, but I wanted to get something done privately, okay?” Gruden said. “That’s the big reason. No disrespect to anybody, but I don’t know everyone that comes here. We want to try to get some privacy today. We feel that there are certain things that we don’t want to show and don’t want to do publicly. Because of the facility that is available to us, it’s a good time. We also want to work in some intense noise. Other aspects played into this today, but those are the two primary ones.”

Gruden and the Buccaneers don’t do much strategic planning for preseason games. Instead, Tampa Bay focuses on itself, the plays it wants to run and the personnel that the team needs to evaluate. Having said that, Gruden said that the coaches will begin showing some Jets game film to the players tonight to start acclimating the team to the Jets’ schemes and personnel.

“We never overly prepare for a preseason game,” Gruden said. “Tonight, we will start to look at the Jets a little bit so our players will have the opportunity to go out there and have some understanding of the opposition. They have different fronts, and different coverages and formations and different plays than we have, so we’ll do a little bit of the Jets.”

Tampa Bay kicks off the preseason at home against New York on Friday, August 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for 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:
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