For the first time so far in the Bucs 2015 training camp, the threat of rain or weather delays were not a concern. The Buccaneers took the field promptly at 9 a.m. and while the crowd wasn’t as large as Sunday’s first open practice, there were still a good number of fans all seemingly enthusiastic.
Rookie quarterback Jameis Winston has brought out not only fans, but also the national media. NFL Network’s Charley Casserly was in attendance on Tuesday along with SI.com’s accomplished and award-winning MMQB author Peter King. Former Bucs Ronde Barber and Mike Alstott were also at practice, getting a look at Winston and his teammates.
As noted in the Winston report article from PewterReport.com earlier, Winston had some more struggles on Tuesday. While the eyeball test wasn’t pretty (two INTs in three pass attempts at one point) at the end of the day Winston completed 70 percent of his passes. Unfortunately, a majority of them were check-downs and fairly short throws. But, as Lovie Smith pointed out in his press conference following practice, sometimes that is fine.
“As a general rule, you always want to push the ball down the field, but if it’s not open there’s a second and possibly third read to go to. The check-down is normally part of that. As we continue to go, that’s what we will want our quarterbacks to do every snap – if it’s not there and you don’t feel like you can get it in there, live to play another down, check it down. There is nothing wrong with getting positive yards. [For] young quarterbacks – as a general rule – positive yards are a good thing. In time all those things will come. He needs to go through all of this. We are giving him different looks every day. We’re asking him to do different plays every day and he is bouncing back. You saw the Ronda Rousey fight. Most of those fights, both [fighters], you are going to get hit. You’ll hit some and you’re going to get hit some. That’s how it goes. It’s a quarterback. That’s life.”
Winston was also seemingly unfazed.
“You have to get better every single day,” Winston said. “No one is perfect and that’s the thing about football. You have to find your corrections and make adjustments.”
Rookie Rannell Hall, who had another solid day for the Bucs on Tuesday, has been a quality find for the Bucs front office and could turn out to be a huge steal eventually. The former UCF Knight is one of the fastest receivers on the team and offers a completely different skill set than Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. The Bucs are still early in installing their formations, but there’s no doubt offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is salivating over the possibilities of players like Hall or rookies Kenny Bell and Kaelin Clay helping take the top off of the defense with speed and opening things up for Evans and Jackson while also helping clear some space for tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins underneath.
The starting offensive line was Kevin Pamphile at left tackle, Logan Mankins and Kadeem Edwards at left and right guard, respectively, Evan Smith at center, and Demar Dotson at right tackle. At times the line held up well, but is still far from being settled. On several of Winston’s attempts he would have been sacked in game situations, but as Smith pointed out on Monday, the offensive line is not allowed to go below the waist in order to prevent injuries and are at somewhat of a disadvantage. The line did better in run blocking, helping spring Doug Martin on some nice runs. Martin, as mentioned a few times already by PewteReport.com, looks to have regained some of his rookie form, and is practicing at a high level early in camp.
Second-year back Charles Sims has some decent runs on Tuesday and also has looked very good as a receiver coming out of the backfield over the last four days.
The defensive line was the group to watch during the opening position drills at practice Tuesday. With kickoff work going on simultaneously on Field 1, many reserve defensive lineman had to temporarily leave their D-Line unit to participate in special teams. This left just the starters to work on bag drills, giving them a great opportunity to make reps count with no rookies stealing time.
In the rotation was Gerald McCoy, Henry Melton, Jacquies Smith, Da’Quan Bowers, Will Gholston, Quayshawne Buckley and Clinton McDonald. Not surprisingly, McCoy led the pack, working almost as another coach. The All-Pro was vocal with teammates and dominant during the drill, showing his ability to stay low and find the gap. Another player who stood out was Smith as he displayed great speed rushing around the edge. The former undrafted pro is definitely more comfortable on the left side, but was seen switching from right to left with George Johnson during a drill with a broom separating the bags. The purpose is for the defensive ends to stay under the broom while rushing to the quarterback, so they learn to stay low and move around the left tackle.
The Buccaneers then broke into goal line practice, with the first-team defense consisting of McCoy, Johnson, McDonald, Smith, Lavonte David, Bruce Carter and Danny Lansanah. Melton and McDonald had some great battles working inside against Logan Mankins, while McCoy was able to find the backfield a few times.
The most memorable play from goal line portion came during an outside handoff to Charles Sims. Melton sealed the edge while Carter had great recognition and pursuit to finish the play and stop Charles Sims for a loss.
11-11’s began with Alterraun Verner intercepting a poorly thrown out-route from Jameis Winston. The play drew a loud cheer from the defense, which must have energized Verner, as the sixth-year pro had another outstanding day at practice. Moments after the first pick, David added another when he read Winston’s eyes on a ball over the middle intended for Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Following the first session of 11-11’s, the offensive and defensive lines took to the end zone for 1-on-1 battles with defensive ends versus offensive tackles and defensive tackles matching up with guards and centers. Jacquies Smith and Donovan Smith had a fairly even competition, as each won their fair share of battles. Similar to the bag drills, Jacquies Smith looked to get around the edge while the left tackle tried to engage high. Evan Smith had some impressive moments, playing against McDonald and McCoy at the one-technique. The defensive line was constantly jumping offside, showing the nerves and excitement of finally being back on the field. As for troubles along the offensive line, there was a lot of holding, especially against McCoy and McDonald.
Practice ended with another 11-on-11 session. Standouts during this portion were Kwon Alexander, who made back-to-back tackles for losses on Bobby Rainey, and McDonald and McCoy in the middle blowing up Evan Smith a few times to get into the backfield. This part included mainly running plays, with Bradley McDougald rotating with Major Wright in the box at safety. There were a few pass plays, one of which was a screen caught by Doug Martin before Josh Keyes jarred the ball loose. That was Martin’s only noticeable slip up on the afternoon, though.
Other notable moments during the final portion of 11-on-11’s were Jacquies Smith closing in on a would-be sack, Verner breaking up a pass towards the sideline to Kenny Bell, and Gholston losing his footing and getting dominated multiple times by the right tackle. It was a tough day overall for Gholston, as the third-year pro seems to qualify as a “bubble” player at this point.
Overall defensive standouts on Tuesday were McCoy, McDonald, David and Alexander up front, and Verner and Banks in the secondary.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Here’s a Dline that could be interesting at times, DaQuan Bowers – McDonald – McCoy – Melton . . . or , you could put Bowers inside, or Melton, and put McCoy outside.
If we can get reasonable pressure from the front 4, I think it will be a massive year for Verner and Banks!
I don’t think any Dline that has Bower’s name in it, is “interesting”. Maybe interesting to the offensive team he is going against, but to a Buc fan..PASS
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