Thursday’s practice didn’t start with the same up-tempo flow as the past few sessions, but that could be a sign of progress.
Instead of immediately breaking into scrimmage play following position drills, the offense spent 30 minutes in walk-throughs as OC Dirk Koetter charted plays on his white board. While not as entertaining to watch, this could mean the offense is moving forward in their install and players are learning new concepts.
Defensive players remained in their separate position groups. Linemen worked on drills zig-zagging through a line of four 7-foot dummies, exploding off the line and getting around the edge, and lining up on the outside shoulder of an offensive lineman before cutting and ripping inside. Linebackers used much of this time in run-pass recognition and snagging interceptions after dropping back.
Eventually, the defense joined the action on Field 1 and began 7-on-7 play. First team defense was linemen Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald, George Johnson, Jacquies Smith and linebackers Lavonte David, Bruce Carter and Danny Lansanah. Henry Melton was often seen rotating with McCoy, who gave a few shout outs to fans during his downtime. McCoy could be heard yelling, “Cold out, huh?” while joking with fans who flooded the stands to support their team in 90 degree weather.
“It’s incredible, man. It’s hard to say that we’ve seen more than this on a consistent basis,” McCoy said of the fan support this training camp. “I love our fans.”
There were a few shakeups on first team offense Thursday. For the first time in camp rookie Ali Marpet assumed the role at starting right guard while Kevin Pamphile was in for Donovan Smith at left tackle. Smith, who was running with the second-team, had to take a temporary break to talk with trainers after appearing to ding his hand. The Penn State product would return for 11-on-11’s.
After a long period of watching position drills and walkthroughs, fans got their first jolt of energy following the opening play of 7-on-7s. Doug Martin took the inside handoff, made a sharp cut and burst through the middle for a big gain. The fourth-year pro continues to look sharp, appearing to see the field better while making quick and fluid cuts. Martin often rotated on first-team with Charles Sims, who was targeted a number of times by Winston in the flats.
Thursday’s 11-on-11 play also began with a run to Martin, this time with the Boise State product getting dragged down by McDonald after a short gain. Jameis Winston, who had his best practice yet, hit tight end Austin-Seferian Jenkins over the middle a few times, as well as Vincent Jackson. This ended up being a theme for the Buccaneers as nearly every pass was over the middle. Last year’s offensive game plan (if there was one) consisted of many out-routes toward the sideline, but five days into camp and it’s easy to see Koetter likes working the middle of the field.
While Winston has already been anointed starter at quarterback, backup Mike Glennon continues to turn in a solid days work each practice. He began 11-on-11’s delivering with more accuracy than Winston before the rookie evened out his performance.
A few highlights from scrimmage included Bradley McDougald, who was playing in the box, closing in on Mike James on a pitch outside and assisting Danny Lansanah to make the tackle. Lansanah showed off his pass coverage skills within twice in a span of four plays by breaking up a pass to James in the left flat and then dropping into the middle and getting his hand up for a pass defense.
Another was from Major Wright, who continued to get first-team reps in Chris Conte’s absence, making a great play to breakup Winston’s pass to Brandon Myers. On the defensive line, Jacquies Smith looked particularly impressive. While he might not have many initial moves off the line, the promising defensive end has a great first step and the speed to get around the edge. And Alterraun Verner had another good day at camp, particularly when he stayed with Mike Evans to break up a deep ball and when he nearly had Thursday’s first interception during 2-minute offense.
As for the few blunders during 11-on-11s, there was one fumbled snap off the exchange from Jeramiah Warren to Winston, as well as a bad drop from Kenny Bell as Winston hit him right on the numbers. Warren ran with the second-teamers in the absence of Josh Allen, who was sidelined with an ankle injury and wearing a protective boot. Lastly, Lansanah was clearly interfering on one play against Sims as he made contact without turning around.
Following 6-on-7s (no center) where Winston was 4-for-4 during his first series, the Buccaneers ended practice with 2-minute offense. All three teams rotated, but first-team standouts were Winston, Jackson, Seferian-Jenkins, Martin and undrafted rookie Adam Humphries. Rannell Hall had another strong performance Thursday, and he and Humphries are going to make wide receiver cuts very difficult. These are good problems for the Buccaneers to have, as numerous lesser-touted receivers have made a name for themselves during camp.
Pewter Report’s Eric Horchy contributed to this practice report.
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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Like what I’m hearing…. Progress. I’m staying reserved for now, but u do think the talent is getting deeper on this team. The core of this team to grow together at their age will be fun to watch. Pray for no injuries and constant competition. I’m getting so excited for the season. Keep growing and maturing young bucs. I’taking a bucs life for this guy
Good to see Marpet playing with the first team. Progress. Slow and steady.
Well the team is starting to jell. Iam looking forward to be in Tampa in Aug to see Tampa bay vs Cleveland. Its been a few years to make this 15oo mile trip. But Iam retired so Iam looking forward to wear my Mike A. #40 jersey go bucs
Good to see Martin back to his Rookie Form! I am a fan of Marpet and pleased with his progress at RG. Sims and the rest of our RBs are looking good so our depth is good there. Koetter is getting his Offense trained and he is doing a Good Job. I expect our Defense to be Top Ten right out of the blocks. This will be an exciting season!
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