Home Sweet Home The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a nice change of scenery for Wednesday’s mandatory mini-camp practice.
Although they met up at One Buccaneer Place, the Bucs players and coaches boarded buses that took them down the street to their home away from home – Raymond James Stadium.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, who is known to give his players a break from practicing at One Buc Place during the offseason from time to time, said Wednesday that he likes getting his team acclimated to their home turf and environment.
“This is a great stadium,” said Gruden. “We can get the hell out of One Buc Place for a few hours. This is where we play. I’m prejudiced, of course, but I think it’s as good a stadium as there is in this league, or in this country. We have new players like [linebacker] Jamie Winborn, [wide receiver] David Boston and our rookie class, and I want them to see where we play our games.”
Once they completed the two-hour practice at Ray-Jay, the players and coaches boarded the buses, which then drove them back to One Buc Place.
But their work wasn’t over quite yet. Gruden used the afternoon to help his team build camaraderie by taking them bowling, which has become an annual offseason event during Gruden’s tenure with the Buccaneers.
The Bucs will hold their final mandatory mini-camp practice at One Buc Place on Thursday morning. If their new training facility is completed on schedule, Thursday’s workout will be the final one the Bucs hold at One Buc Place since the team is scheduled to move into the new training facility immediately after it breaks training camp on Aug. 17.
“We’ll be back to One Buc, even if we have to have a guest practice or something like that,” Gruden said. “We’ll at some point get back to One Buc. We have great memories. Hopefully the new facility is on schedule, and we’ll be in there as it sounds. But I don’t have any farewell speeches, if you know what I mean.”
Bryant, Fonoti Return To Practice Tampa Bay defensive tackle Anthony Bryant and guard Toniu Fonoti were the only two players that did not attend Tuesday’s mandatory mini-camp practices.
Bryant’s absence was excused by the team due to an illness in his family. However, Fonoti’s was not, and according to Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, the Bucs still are looking into that situation.
“We haven’t had a chance to meet about that,” Gruden said of Fonoti’s absence on Tuesday. “I’ll address that privately to find out what and if there is a problem.”
Bucs cornerback Brian Kelly was in attendance Wednesday but was held out of the workout due to a toe injury. Bucs rookie wide receiver Maurice Stovall was limited due to an ankle sprain.
Rookie safety Jahmile Addae left practice after injuring his ankle/foot in a special teams drill.
Simms Impressing There was and still is some cause for concern at Tampa Bay’s quarterback position since Luke McCown injured his knee last week. He will, after all, undergo surgery and could miss the 2006 regular season.
But on a positive note, Bucs QB Chris Simms, who will enter his first training camp as a starter next month, has been quite impressive this offseason.
“He put another great practice together today,” Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said of Simms. “He’s really been sharp. He’s made some really difficult throws. His understanding and command of the offense are much better. I think he’s more confident. He’ll be starting his first game as an opening-day starter. This will be the first time he’s been given the ball on opening day. He still isn’t the most experienced guy, but boy is he showing more poise. He’s much more confident and relaxed. He’s getting to second and third receivers. Just his overall presence is that much better.”
So Far, So Good Although he just recently signed with Tampa Bay, wide receiver David Boston apparently hasn’t taken long to make an impression on head coach Jon Gruden, who has been encouraged by what he’s seen from the former 1999 first-round draft pick.
“He’s looked pretty good,” Gruden said of Boston. “I’m not going to say anything else other than he’s looked pretty good. He’s getting himself physically fit again – he’s had some injuries over the past few seasons.”
With Joey Galloway healthy and both Boston and Michael Clayton on the mend, Gruden sees a lot of potential in his stable of wide receivers this year.
“[David Boston] and Michael Clayton both are getting themselves rounded back into playing shape,” said Gruden. “If they can do that it will help our team.”
Group & Corporate Tailgate Party Tickets Available The Bucs announced Wednesday that 2006 Group and Corporate Tailgate Party tickets are now available.
Tampa Bay’s Largest Tailgate Party costs just $140 per person (minimum of 20 people) and includes a Bucs home game ticket, access to the party tent and an all-you-can-eat buffet.
The Private Group or Corporate Tailgate Party costs $189 per person (minimum of 50 people) and includes a Bucs home game ticket, a private tent for the group, an all-you-can-eat buffet and entertainment.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Bucs Group Sales Department at (813) 870-2700 or on-line at Buccaneers.com.
Quote Of The Day Bucs head coach Jon Gruden on how he would rate the 2006 offseason
“I can’t imagine it getting much better, from a turnout standpoint, from a work-ethic standpoint. Mike Morris, our strength coach, has made a splash here. He’s done a great job. This team is in very good shape. Kurt Shultz, his assistant, came over from Minnesota and they have collaborated on one heck of a program. And our coaches have paid a price also. Again, if you just walk in the locker room and look at the amount of stickers next to each guy’s name, they’ve all been here just about every day. That’s hard to put a price tag on, guys who are here every day working. That’s going to pay off for us.”
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