After three days of hard work, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wrapped up their rookie-mini-camp on Sunday morning.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden was satisfied with the effort he received from the 50 players who participated throughout the weekend.
“We got a lot done,” Gruden said. “I was very pleased with what we got done, and the execution got better and better and better. That’s about as good a rookie camp as we’ve had since I can remember.”
According to Gruden, the amount of quality players the Bucs had on the football field this weekend was the main reason why he deemed this rookie mini-camp the best one he’s ever had.
“We had better players,” Gruden said. “Isn’t that something? That’s a shock. We had a lot of good players here, let’s be honest. We had a first-round draft choice who’s really good; this middle linebacker is really a good player; the tight end, you saw for yourself, has really got a lot of ability; two linemen who have played a lot of football, and you throw in [Jonathan] Clinkscale and you’ve got three guys who are pretty darn good players; the two safeties.
“I mean, this is a good draft class. And there are four or five guys who are here who we’ll find a way to get on our roster, I believe. This was a strong cast of players. (Defensive coordinator) Monte Kiffin and his staff are tremendous, (offensive line coach) Bill Muir and the offensive staff do a great job, and (special teams coach) Rich Bisaccia is, I think, one of the best in football. When you combine good players with guys who are very good position coaches, you have a chance to have a great camp.”
MORE ROSTER MOVES ON THE WAY?: Bucs head coach Jon Gruden was so impressed with the 20 tryout players that participated in the three-day rookie mini-camp that the team may sign as many as a handful of them.
“We’re going to meet this afternoon and tomorrow morning to try to finalize our intentions there,” Gruden said. “Some of these guys might not have a chance to come and play for us this year, but certainly if they stay in shape, you might get an injury in training camp and you might recall this as an experience to draw from.”
NEXT OTA TO TAKE PLACE IN A FEW WEEKS: Tampa Bay will hold its three-day mandatory mini-camp during the third week of June, but the Buccaneers will hold 11 organized team activity workouts between now and then.
Because of college eligibility rules, the Bucs probably won’t host another OTA until after May 16. The team has 11 OTAs remaining.
“Shortly after the 16th,” Gruden said when asked when the Bucs would hold their next OTA. “Most of the rookies will be back by then. We’ll give them a chance to enroll in our offseason program and get used to this heat. They got a break this weekend — it wasn’t very hot — so I think they still don’t have a full understanding as to what they’re getting into.”
GRUDEN IMPRESSED WITH SEVERAL PLAYERS: Bucs head coach Jon Gruden came away impressed with several players this weekend, including the three wide receivers — Larry Brackins, Paris Warren and J.R. Russell — that landed with the Bucs in the 2005 NFL Draft.
“Well, we have a guy in the fifth round here who’s a project,” Gruden said of Brackins. “He’s a bit of a project. He doesn’t have a lot of experience to draw from, but he’s a talented guy. He made two or three plays today easily that a not of lot of men can make. Brackins is going to be a work in progress. Paris Warren is a really good football player. I think at the end of the day he’s going to be good after the catch, he’s instinctive, he’s tough and he’s a natural. Whether he’s fast enough, whether or not he can produce day-in and day-out remains to be seen. The same with Russell. Those guys know how to play the game, they’re physical and tough and they’ve got to sustain day after day after day of getting better and showing improvement.”
Gruden was also impressed with the way his two new offensive linemen — tackle Chris Colmer and guard Dan Buenning — performed during the three-day rookie mini-camp.
“Yeah, but it’s still awfully early,” Gruden said. “We haven’t seen a blitz yet. We haven’t seen (defensive end) Simeon Rice in town yet. So life will get a little bit more challenging to say the least. But it’s been exciting. I thought (defensive tackle) Lynn McGruder flashed at me, the defensive tackle. Anthony Bryant made some big plays in there; he’s a strong man. We were challenged. I thought Colmer, Buenning and (G Jonathan) Clinkscale did a good job in there and we’re encouraged by the fact that they’re quick studies and physical men.”
THAT’S A WRAP: Once Tampa Bay’s third and final rookie mini-camp practice came to an end on Sunday morning, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden gathered the players at midfield and addressed them as a group.
However, once Gruden finished talking to the players, he had Bucs personnel executive and former quarterback Doug Williams speak.
“We try to use Doug creatively, not just in personnel but as a former Buccaneer player,” said Gruden. “He went through rookie mini-camp here at One Buc Place 27 years ago and had a hell of a lot to do with turning this team around. They went from 0-26 to a perennial playoff contender with him, just him. When he left, we all know what happened. He had just a good word to these guys to get themselves in shape and come back here as soon as they can ready to go and to have some camaraderie and unity among this class. Don’t come in here intimidated, come in here ready to compete.”
According to Gruden, Williams is more than qualified to address a group of players the way he did after Sunday’s practice.
“He is who he is,” Gruden said of Williams. “He’s got a lot more stock, I think, then people realize. A lot of people might think around here he’s just an ex-Buc. But he’s a Super Bowl MVP and he went through a tremendous amount in his life. [He was a] black quarterback before there were very many black quarterbacks. He went to the USFL, lost his wife, was a head coach at Grambling, succeeding Eddie Robinson. This guy’s done some miraculous things and he’s a great resource to draw from.”
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