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The Buccaneers came out on Monday afternoon and had an abbreviated outdoor session of their practice session. Tampa Bay was scheduled to be outside for an hour and 15 minutes, but the team broke off early to go into their indoor facility, where the media was not permitted to watch. After a morning practice in pads, the players practiced this afternoon in shorts, jerseys, and helmets. The temperature was around 90 degrees and it was predominantly cloudy.
The Bucs started the practice the same way they have began all of their morning practices, which was with a special teams session. Wide receivers Dexter Jackson, Micheal Spurlock, and running back Clifton Smith fielded punts for the Buccaneers. All of the three fielded their attempts cleanly.
While the special teams unit was going through punt coverage and punt returns, Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden mingled with coaches and players.
"B.J. that was a good start," yelled Gruden across the field as he walked to his versatile fullback. The two chatted for a while before the team broke into stretching. Many veterans were held out of the afternoon practice. That list included: Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn, Ronde Barber, Joey Galloway, Kevin Carter, Jerramy Stevens, and Cato June.
After stretching period, the position groups warmed up and then the offense and defense broke into an installation session.
Bucs offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Muir worked with his players on the blocking sled. Muir emphasized the use of the players' hands and knee bend while they took on individual pads on the sled and slid down the line and used forearm shivers to punch the pads.
"Get your feet underneath you, men," Muir said to the group. "Let your feet take you to the punch."
New center Jeff Faine really stood out amongst the group. He used good technique and packed the biggest initial punch of all of the linemen.
While the linemen worked on the blocking sled, Gruden watched the quarterbacks throw passes to the running backs in another installation period.
Bucs quarterback Jeff Garciia looked more accurate in the early part of the afternoon practice, hitting wide receiver Parris Warren in stride down the middle of the field for a 30-yard touchdown strike during a play install period.
The Bucs defense worked on installing coverages and gap assignments, especially in the over defensive front.
Replacing the starters were: Adam Hayward in for Brooks, Quincy Black in for June, Greg White in for Kevin Carter, and Aqib Talib in for Barber. Also, Eugene Wilson was in at nickel corner in the afternoon.
After the installation session the players went into a seven-on-seven session. Garcia took the first reps as the team continued to work on their red zone defense and offense. The ball was placed on the 20-yard line for a few series before being moved forward.
Garcia went down the middle of the field to complete a pass to receiver Cortez Hankton for a completion of over 10 yards. Linebacker Ryan Nece reached to break the pass up but was just late as the ball went by him.
Garcia took a shot at the end zone when Smith ran a wheel route. Backup middle linebacker Matt McCoy showed his speed by staying with Smith stride for stride. As Smith looked up for the ball, McCoy put his arms up and the ball came down on his back for an incompletion.
Garcia went back to the middle of the field where he connected with Troupe for a 12-yard gain after Troupe had worked himself open against Hayward.
But Garcia's offensive teammates weren't always able to capitalize on his accuracy this afternoon. Bucs running back Earnest Grhaam dropped a dump off pass from No. 7 during a 9-on-7 drill.
Tampa Bay's defensive backs had some trouble covering some of Garcia's passes. During a 9-on-7 session, rookie WR Dexter Jackson used his speed to get open towards the right sideline, but cornerback Sammy Davis pulled Jackson's jersey in order to not get beat, which caused the second-round pick to lose his grip on the pass as he dove to the ground. The referee signaled a holding penalty on Davis.
Quarterback Brian Griese was second to Garcia in the order of reps. In the morning practice quarterback Luke McCown received the second team reps. Griese took advantage of the opportunity and had one of his sharpest sessions of training camp thus far.
Griese threaded a pass to Askew between Talib and safety Jermaine Phillips along the sideline at about the five-yard line. Griese went back to the fullback in the flat near the line of scrimmage. Askew showed his speed by running away from cornerback Sammy Davis and safety Donte Nicholson. Askew got inside the 10 before being forced out of bounds.
Griese developed some nice chemistry with wide receiver Maurice Stovall. The flanker's size makes him an obvious red zone target and Griese went with it. He completed a pass in stride to Stovall across the middle against Black.
Perhaps the best pass of training camp for Griese thus far was a perfectly thrown ball in the back of the end zone that Stovall caught in stride between Nece and Jackson. Stovall dunked the ball over the goal posts and Griese got a high-five from Gruden.
Griese tried to repeat a touchdown pass to Stovall as the wideout was running free in the end zone on a drag route, but Griese led Stovall too much and the pass was out of his reach. Griese came back, completing a pass inside the five to receiver Chad Lucas, who was stopped short of the end zone by Davis, and a quick slant to Antonio Bryant with potential room to run.
Following Griese was McCown. The young quarterback had a strong session and was accurate. McCown threaded a pass on the sideline to Hankton in between Nece and Talib. McCown went to Bryant with linebacker Geno Hayes being a hair late to breakup the pass.
McCown threw a touchdown to the diminutive Smith on a short out route. Smith was being chased by Nece, but Smith turned up field and raced into the end zone along the sideline.
Tampa Bay rookie QB Josh Johnson didn't take a lot of reps this afternoon, but he did get to showcase his speed on a quarterback keeper play, which is a new wrinkle in Gruden's system.
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