The Buccaneers held two practices in shorts, jerseys and helmets at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. on Wednesday.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden had “mixed reviews” on the morning practice.
“We took the pads off today,” said Gruden. “We had 17 or 18 players IVed yesterday because of the heat. There were some good things. When you’re working on an opponent, it’s hard to simulate the opponent and get the exact look that you’re looking for, so some of the things that we did today we were a bit sluggish. But I was pleased with some of the things I saw.”
Tampa Bay will hold its final training camp practice on Thursday morning. He suggested the Bucs have made a significant amount of progress in camp, which began with the players and coaches reporting on July 27.
“I am pleased,” Gruden said of his team’s training camp. “We didn’t get rained out. The weather was not a factor here – we’re very hot, but we didn’t get rained out as many times as we had in the past. Guys worked hard. We appear to be fairly injury-free. And a lot of our newcomers have gotten better, and some of our second-year players also. When you look at [linebacker] Barrett Ruud and some of last year’s draft class like [safety] Donte Nicholson, they’ve shown themselves well here. So we’re pleased and we’re still very respectful – we’ve got a long way to go to be a great football team.”
The Bucs will head back to Tampa immediately after they break camp on Thursday morning. The team is scheduled to hold a walkthrough at MacDill Air Force Base at 3:00 p.m. on Friday and will host the Miami Dolphins in their second preseason contest of the year on Saturday night.
Although it’s not quite complete, Tampa Bay’s new, state-of-the-art training facility will be the next stop for the Buccaneers, and luckily for the team it is a permanent one.
Bucs general manager Bruce Allen addressed the players regarding the new training facility on Tuesday evening, and Gruden suggested Allen’s message was well received since he was the bearer of good news.
“I think Bruce got a standing ovation when he left,” Gruden said. “That’s why he doesn’t talk to the team that much unless he has really good news. But our players, particularly the guys who have been here for a period of years, coaches like [defensive coordinator] Monte Kiffin – when you’re showering in a locker room with 41 other guys in about a 12-foot radius, you get tired of that, man. We’re very excited and again very appreciative of the Glazers for the extent that they went to in building this facility. It’s going to be the best in all of sports and we’re very fortunate.”
Tampa Bay’s soon-to-be former training facility, One Buccaneer Place, was built in 1976 and is the league’s oldest and most out of date headquarters in the NFL. The new facility will accommodate the team’s needs in terms of day-to-day operations and preparation for the upcoming NFL season.
“When you think about rehabbing players at One Buccaneer Place, as opposed to a state-of-the-art rehab center, that will help the football team,” Gruden said. “When you think about installing game plans in a theater-type atmosphere as opposed to a box, that’s going to help. Concentration — I think your meetings will have every reason to be better. The weight room? You’ve got to be kidding me. The training facility for these guys to improve their strength and flexibility is 10 times greater. So, absolutely (it will help). That’s why people are building these facilities. It also helps build camaraderie. These players have somewhere to go on their day off where they can study tape. Years past around here, we haven’t had a chance to let players come in on their day off during the season even to study film, because there are no rooms to study tape. I could keep going on and on but this state-of-the-art complex is going to certainly help us and give us every reason to improve.”
Although it has been built on the old Tampa Bay Mall center across the street from Raymond James Stadium, Gruden purposely has stayed away from the training facility so that he can be as surprised as everyone else when he walks in it for the first time this weekend.
“I’ve wanted from the very beginning to be excited and surprised by everything,” said Gruden. “I’ve told the players that this is a rumor, this is really a library that’s not for you guys. I just want to be surprised and I refuse to listen when people talk about it. I’ll see it with my own two eyes when we get back. Once again, I’m as excited as the players are.”
Before he celebrates the opening of the new and improved training facility, Gruden will first celebrate his 43rd birthday on Thursday, which just happens to fall on the same day as the Bucs’ final day of training camp.
“I will not get anywhere near football when I leave here Thursday,” Gruden said. “I will go home. It’s my birthday. I’m going to go home and enjoy a meal with my family, and first thing Friday morning I’ll report to the Renaissance Hotel while we’re setting up the facility. My understanding is I can’t get in there until Sunday morning, so at 3:17 a.m. I’ll be there.”
Injury Report Bucs tackle Torrin Tucker (knee), defensive tackle Kevin Lewis (leg) and running back Derek Watson (ankle) were held out of the morning workout. Defensive tackle Chris Hovan (infection) returned to action, but he was limited.
Tucker, Lewis, Watson, wide receivers Boston, Galloway, J.R. Russell, running back Michael Pittman and cornerback Juran Bolden were held out of the afternoon practice.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said quarterback Jay Fielder, who still is on the physically unable to perform list with a surgically repaired throwing shoulder, is improving and remains day-to-day.
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