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The Buccaneers held their fourth training camp practice of the year and second workout of the day at Disney’s Wide of World Sports complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. on Sunday afternoon.
This afternoon practice was held on the practice fields outside for about one hour before the team moved into the air-conditioned tent, where the players were able to take mental reps on a 40-yard football field, but the media was not permitted to watch.
The players could certainly use the cool-off period as the temperature on the thermometer underneath the scoreboard out on the field read 103 degrees at the start of practice. The workout was held under party cloudy skies and in hot and humid conditions.
In addition to PUP list players Cadillac Williams (knee) and Luke Petitgout (knee), Bucs wide receiver Joey Galloway (groin) and cornerback Torrie Cox (knee) were held out of this afternoon’s practice.
Two players that left this morning’s workout with cramps – safety Tanard Jackson and wide receiver Antonio Bryant – returned to action this afternoon. However, linebackers Cato June and Derrick Brooks, cornerback Ronde Barber, defensive end Kevin Carter, running back Warrick Dunn and wide receiver Ike Hilliard were held out of the practice as part of head coach Jon Gruden’s plan to keep some of the team’s veterans fresh during camp.
To start the practice, the Buccaneers warmed up with a special teams session. Interestingly, the Bucs had two of their athletic lineman on kick returns. They were part of the group trying to form a wedge on kickoffs. From the offensive line was Jeremy Zuttah, and from the defensive line was Jimmy Wilkerson.
Once the stretching period ended, the players broke off into separate parts of the two practice fields to work with their respective position coaches.
The wide receivers worked on catching the ball and turning up field while staying in bounds. Wide receiver Maurice Stovall made a beautiful one-handed catch that had the other receivers hollering. Rookie receiver Dexter Jackson stepped out of bounds on both of his attempts. Receiver Michael Clayton dropped one pass and repeated the drill to do it correctly. He made a nice catch on his re-try.
“There are the hands — right there,” shouted receivers coach Richard Mann.
Bucs defensive backs coach Raheem Morris worked with the defensive backs on the far field. Morris spent a significant amount of this particular practice session working on bump-and-run and press coverage.
Morris stressed the importance of using good hand/arm technique and knee bend to block receivers at the line of scrimmage. Some of the defensive backs fared better than others in this session.
Bucs cornerback Phillip Buchanon led this drill and showed why Morris chose him to start. Buchanon was solid in terms of pressing his fellow defensive backs, who were playing the role of the receiver, at the line.
Tampa Bay rookie CB Aqib Talib struggled during this drill, which required Morris to coach him up. However, when it was Talib’s turn to play receiver he was crafty in terms of getting off of the line of scrimmage.
Of course, Talib was drawing on his experience from Kansas, where he played some wide receiver while having a full-time role as a cornerback.
Morris was clearly impressed with Talib’s ability to get off the line of scrimmage
“Okay. Go over there with the receivers, Aqib,” Morris said after Talib had gotten off of the line of scrimmage for the third straight rep.
Morris also worked on implementing some new terminology and schemes for the defensive backs, which had the attention of all of the players, even the veterans.
At one point, Talib had a question about his responsibilities in coverage when there are different types or running back formations.
Morris instructed Talib and gave him a few pointers. At one point, Talib smiled and said, “I know this [expletive], Coach.”
Morris made Talib prove it by quizzing him on his responsibilities in different defensive alignments. Talib was on the mark, answering all of Morris’ rapid-fire questions correctly.
“Beautifully done, Aqib,” Morris said.
That was just a sign of things to come from Tampa Bay’s 2008 first-round draft pick in this practice.
Bucs quarterback Luke McCown took the first reps at quarterback in the afternoon practice. Brian Griese was second, and Chris Simms and Josh Johnson followed. Johnson was the third quarterback during the passing installation session, and Simms was the third quarterback in the scrimmages. Johnson did not get reps in the scrimmages.
McCown was impressive off of play-action during the morning session, and he continued to excel in this area this afternoon during an 11-on-11 session when he sold the defense on a play-action fake. McCown looked deep to Clayton, who was covered, which prompted him to check down to fullback B.J. Askew in the flat for a decent gain.
McCown has been particularly sharp on the short-to-intermediate passing plays. During the 11-on-11 session, McCown hit Bryant on a crossing route. With CB Sammy Davis in the trail position, Bryant showed impressive speed by turning upfield for a decent gain.
McCown had to scramble on a few occasions due to the Bucs pass rush. On one bootleg McCown got a pass off, but in a game he probably would have been sacked by defensive end Greg White coming from behind him.
In the next scrimmage session, McCown was pressured by defensive end Gaines Adams. McCown ran away from Adams and turned the corner up field. Bucs middle linebacker Barrett Ruud showed his speed by closing in an instant. McCown had only run for three yards when Ruud would have had a clean shot at a big hit.
Tight end Ben Troupe continued to impress in the passing game. During an 11-on-11 session, Troupe accelerated off of the line of scrimmage and got open on a crossing route, which allowed Griese to hit him in stride. Troupe not only caught the pass, but he turned on the jets and ran upfield for a big gain.
Griese wasn’t perfect on the afternoon, though. During the same full-team drill, his deep pass down the right sidelined intended for WR Cortez Hankton was defended by cornerback Darrell Hunter, which caused an incompletion.
During the final 11-on-11 session, Griese threw a nice pass to running back Michael Bennett for a short gain on a dump off, but he missed Warren near the sideline. Warren was wide open and had plenty of running room had Griese saw him and thrown the ball his way.
Griese threw into double coverage for receiver Brian Clark on one play. Talib and safety Tanard Jackson had Clark blanketed. None of the three players had a chance to catch the high pass from Griese.
Griese also had an incompletion on a low pass to wide receiver Cortez Hankton as he was pressured by defensive tackle Dre Moore. Griese completed a dump off to fullback B.J. Askew, but linebacker Antoine Cash met him immediately.
Griese came close to another interception on a dump off pass to Michael Bennett. Linebacker Ryan Nece was a second late, or the ball went through Nece’s hands to Bennett. If Nece had caught it, he had open field to the end zone, but the speedy Bennett would have been close to try and prevent a touchdown.
Bennett had a few good interior runs. On one play he was four yards downfield when defensive tackle Ryan Sims was there to engulf him. On another run, Bennett was five yards past the line of scrimmage when Adams was there to make the stop. Adams did a good job of pursuing down the line from his spot at left end.
Defensive tackle Javon Haye had a few good pressures in the afternoon session as well.
Running back Kenneth Darby had a nice run behind tackle Donald Penn and guard Arron Sears. Darby’s run looked to be over 10 yards before he was pushed out of bounds. On a previous play, Darby ran to the strongside and was met at the line of scrimmage by linebacker Quincy Black.
With starting QB Jeff Garcia not scheduled to practice until Monday morning, Chris Simms continued to receive some reps this afternoon.
Simms was extremely fortunate in the full-team drill when his pass down the left sideline to Warren sailed right towards Ruud, who had great coverage on the play and was in position to come up with the interception.
“Oh my God, Barrett,” Morris said as he saw Simms’ pass heading right for Ruud.
However, Warren did a great job of coming back for the ball and jumping in front of Ruud for the reception.
Tampa Bay had some penalty problems on both sides of the football during the morning session, and even though there weren’t as many, some yellow flags hit the turf again this afternoon.
Bucs second-year left guard Arron Sears was guilty of two infractions. During an 11-on-11 session, Sears was called for a false start penalty on one play, and a few plays later he was called for holding on running back Earnest Graham’s run off the right side for a big gain.
Graham also had success on a counter run. That play has worked well for the Bucs offense throughout their four practices this training camp.
Once they concluded their work on the practice fields, the Bucs spent the rest of the practice in-doors inside their air-conditioned tent.
The story of the afternoon practice was Talib recording two interceptions, one from Griese and one from Simms.
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