It was another wet and rainy day at One Buccaneer Place but players suited up in pads for the first time and Day 3 of training camp is in the books. Fortunately the rain ended just prior to the players hitting the field and the players – and media – were happy with Mother Nature.
Team officials announced early Monday that practice would be closed to the public because of heavy rains washing out roadways and saturating the surrounding area of the complex. The roughly 2.5 hour session was scheduled for 2:30, got pushed back, but then ended up beginning right on time.
Practice opened with the team breaking into positions and doing a variety of individual and 1-on-1 work across the three-field facility.
Quarterbacks Jameis Winston, Mike Glennon and Seth Lobato practiced screen pass drills, dropping back with two coaches rushing and holding up pads for them to loft balls over to waiting running backs.
Two fields over, running back Bobby Rainey, rookie receivers Kaelin Clay and Donteea Dye and cornerback Alterraun Verner took turns hauling in simulated punts shot out of a JUGS machine. Verner, who has one punt return and one kick return on his NFL resume from his time in Tennessee, at one point caught a punt behind his back.
On the middle field four groups of players working on blocking an opposing team’s gunner on punt return situations while another unit practiced fielding onside kicks.
Prior to 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, the offense lined up at their own 10-yard line and did situational walk-through work getting out of the opponent’s red zone. It was noticed that the team continues to rotate players along its starting offensive line during this period, with Kevin Pamphile back at left tackle and Kadeem Edwards at right guard. When the second team took over, veteran right tackle Demar Dotson went back to the goal line on his own to work on his footwork after the snap.
The offense then rotated and took some red zone snaps from the 10, working primarily on running plays. Most of this drill played out cleanly but Winston and running back Mike James did misconnect on a pitch right that resulted in a fumble. Although there was no tackling or real hitting Monday, rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander at one point put his shoulder into James, knocking him down to the turf.
As head coach Lovie Smith stated in his post-practice press conference, linemen on both sides of the ball were going closest to full speed Monday while everyone else held back. As seen by the Alexander-James moment, there was still plenty of physicality. On back-to-back snaps during 11-on-11 drills linebacker Danny Lansanah finished plays by knocking Rainey and receiver Robert Herron to the ground.
Following red zone drills, the team moved to the middle field to get into their first 11-on-11 session of the afternoon and work on blitz recognition. Winston struggled during this period, getting his first throw taken back for a pick-6 by cornerback Leonard Johnson. Safety D.J. Swearinger and cornerback Sterling Moore added two more interceptions against the rookie signal caller. Winston was going to a target to the right and threw a terribly off-target pass that Moore picked off with ease.
Winston and Glennon both sharpened up their throws in 7-on-7’s. Glennon’s best throw of the day up to that point came on a quick out to Clay that the rookie receiver dived for and hauled in right before cornerback Mike Jenkins landed on top of him. Jenkins jumped up and let out a string of expletives directed at himself, upset that he didn’t slap the pass away. Jenkins showed the same passion and frustration later in the drill when he successfully broke up a pass to Kenny Bell but grabbed the ball and spiked in because he didn’t record the interception.
Rookie receiver Rannell Hall secured a nice back-shoulder catch from Glennon and pulled down nearly every pass thrown his way for a third straight practice, but took mostly second-team reps.
Though he wasn’t hitting guys in stride with consistency, Winston continues to build a rapport with pass catchers Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. A number of Winston’s passes on mid-range to deep slants in the middle of the field would put receivers in vulnerable positions for hits from incoming defensive backs.
The team went back to 11-on-11 drills to finish up practice. Martin, James, Rainey and Charles Sims received plenty of work taking handoffs and hitting holes Monday. Martin continues to look slimmed down and quick, making a pair of nice cutbacks at the line to find running room. On a couple occasions offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter had Martin and other backs split out wide.
One of the day’s better coverage moments came when defensive end Jacquies Smith came off the right edge to flush Winston out of the pocket. Moving to his left, Winston sent a deep ball to Bell but cornerback Johnthan Banks recovered to make the break up. Banks made a few plays in coverage, including batting down a wobbly pass from Winston intended to Evans on a mid-range post.