The Tampa Bay Buccaneers held a training camp practice at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex on Thursday morning.
The Bucs sported full pads for the workout, which was held under sunny skies and in hot and humid conditions with the temperature in the 90s and the heat index over 100.
Tampa Bay held several players out of this morning's practice, including fullback B.J. Askew (ankle) center Jeff Faine (back), wide receiver Chad Lucas (hamstring) and wide receiver Joey Galloway (groin). Each player is listed as day-to-day with their respective ailments.
With Faine resting his back, Dan Buenning took most of the first-team reps at center on Thursday morning. Buenning and the team's offensive line would later come up big in terms of opening up running lanes.
Bucs running back Cadillac Williams (knee) and left tackle Luke Petitgout (knee) remain on the physically unable to perform list.
Cornerback Ronde Barber, linebacker Derrick Brooks, guard Davin Joseph, quarterback Jeff Garcia and defensive tackle Chris Hovan led the team in stretching to begin the practice.
Once the stretching period ended, the players broke off into different parts of the two practice fields to work with their respective position coaches.
Bucs offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Muir worked with his players on technique, specifically footwork, as they worked their way through pads.
"We need to be working with better knee bend," Muir said to his players.
Garcia, Luke McCown, Brian Griese, Josh Johnson and Chris Simms started practice by executing plays that QBs coach Greg Olson called out to them with rookie Jeremy Zuttah, guard Arron Sears, Buenning, offensive lineman Chris Denman and guard Brian Johnson serving as the centers.
Olson wasn't the only person coaching up the quarterbacks through this part of practice. Interestingly, McCown gave Johnson feedback and advice after almost every snap, and the rookie signal caller appeared to be all ears.
Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin started the practice working with his players on play install. From there, the defensive linemen trotted over to the far field to run through dummy drills and hit the blocking sled.
Head coach Jon Gruden spends a lot of time at each practice working with the quarterbacks and wide receivers, but he decided to get even more involved in the action on Thursday morning.
Gruden and an assistant held a blocking pad and swatted at the receivers as they ran through the two coaches with the ball in an effort to emphasize ball security.
From there, Gruden decided to try his hand at defensive back by lining up across from each receiver in an attempt to cover them at the 5-yard line.
Gruden was beaten on every play, but came close to getting his hand on a slant pass from McCown to WR Cortez Hankton, who hauled in the pass for a touchdown.
"Damn," Gruden yelled as he pumped his fist after he thought he might actually defend on that particular pass play.
During Wednesday's practice, Gruden joked with his players about having worked hard on his conditioning for these types of drills. However, Gruden admitted that he was a little winded after covering the receivers this morning.
"I'm getting a little tired over here. I'm going to whack your ass," Gruden said as he picked up a blocking pad and got ready to work more on ball security drills with the receivers.
Garcia got off to a rough start this morning when he overthrew tight end Ben Troupe 15 yards up field near the right sideline. The ball hit Troupe's hands, but it was too high for him to haul it in.
However, from there, Garcia and the rest of Tampa Bay's quarterbacks performed well during warm-ups and the play install periods.
Garcia showed great touch on a 20-yard fade to wide receiver Michael Clayton for a touchdown.
Perhaps the most impressive play of this session came when Garcia threw a fade pass to WR Antonio Bryant in the corner of the right end zone. Bryant caught the ball, but his momentum took him out of the end zone and over the end zone net that separates the fans from the field. The crowd applauded and cheered as Bryant got on his feet after the touchdown grab.
McCown was also sharp, hitting Clayton down the right seam for a 20-yard touchdown strike. He followed that play with another pass down the right seam, this time to WR Maurice Stovall for a 20-yard score.
McCown's last pass in this period was on the money as well, this time hitting WR Ike Hilliard for a 20-yard strike.
While he was fairly accurate this morning, Griese had some trouble with the center/quarterback exchange during a 9-on-9 session when he fumbled the ball that was snapped from Buenning. Instead of trying to fall on the loose ball, Griese kicked the ball out of bounds out of frustration.
During a 9-on-9 session, running lanes were tough to find for the running backs due to solid play from the defense. Linebacker Cato June stuffed RB Kenneth Darby on a run off the right side to start this session.
But on the next play, Sears, tackle Anthony Davis and tight end John Gilmore opened up a nice running lane for RB Clifton Smith.
Denman, who saw action at right guard, and RT Dennis Roland closed off the perimeter on the next play, allowing Darby to find running room for a decent gain.
Buenning and Joseph continued to help the Bucs offense run the ball effectively by moving the pile and opening up a hole in the middle for Darby, who had a very productive practice this morning.
For the second consecutive day, Tampa Bay's offensive line helped the Bucs turn in a solid outing in terms of running the football. One of the main reasons for the offense's success in running the ball has been Byron Storer, who played well in place of Askew this morning and has had a solid camp in terms of lead blocking.
Once the 9-on-9 session concluded, the Bucs went into an 11-on-11 session, where the offense featured several screen passes.
Garcia's first pass of the practice was a screen to RB Warrick Dunn. Defensive end Gaines Adams' long arm nearly tipped the pass, but once it got by him and in Dunn's hands, No. 28 accelerated up field for a 40-yard touchdown.
Garcia's next pass was another screen, this time to RB Earnest Graham, who did not score but still had a decent gain.
The Bucs continued to keep the defense off balance during the 11-on-11 session by calling a draw play from Garcia to Dunn, who found 10 yards worth of running room behind rookie Jeremy Zuttah, who was taking second-team reps at center this morning.
Dunn might have turned in his best practice since his return to the Bucs this morning. During the same 11-on-11 session, Dunn found running room up the gut after Sears blocked linebacker Derrick Brooks. That play resulted in a 10-yard gain for Dunn and the offense.
Tampa Bay experimented with defensive end Kevin Carter lining up as a tight end in goal line drills on Wednesday morning. Well, Gruden decided to add another new wrinkle to the offense this morning by having WR Antonio Bryant line up off tackle and in a three-point stance as a tight end on one particular play.
Garcia wasn't perfect this morning. During the full team drill, Garcia play-action passed in the flat to tight end Alex Smith, whom he overthrew for an incomplete pass.
On the next play, Garcia threw a pass to tight end Daniel Fells, but safety Will Allen drilled the ball out of Fells' hands, which allowed S Donte Nicholson to intercept it. Linebacker Quincy Black had provided a great pass rush after he had beaten right tackle Jeremy Trueblood on the play.
That proved to be the last one Pewter Report charted for Garcia, who left practice with a calf injury that is considered day-to-day.
That meant extra reps for McCown, Griese, Simms and Johnson throughout the rest of practice.
McCown got a rude awakening in place of Garcia during a full team drill when defensive tackle Ryan Sims rushed into the backfield untouched and was in position to drill McCown.
That was the first of several sloppy plays from the offense. On the next play, the offense was called for a false start. When the offense lined up again, the group was not assignment sound, which prompted Gruden to have the players huddle up again.
"Huddle up," Gruden screamed. "Do we know what the [expletive] we're doing?"
Things improved slightly for the offense as Griese hit TE Jerramy Stevens down the right sideline for a 15-yard gain with S Will Allen trailing on the play.
During a 7-on-7 drill, McCown hit Clayton on a sideline route for a decent gain vs. CB Ronde Barber and S Tanard Jackson.
McCown completed another pass, this time to WR Paris Warren, who turned up field for a first down, but allowed Black to knock the ball out of his hands and Nicholson to recover the loose ball.
Things didn't get any better for Warren. A few plays later, Griese threw a fade to the right corner of the end zone for Warren, but the ball was a little underthrown, which allowed Barber to break up the pass for an incompletion.
Griese nearly got TE Alex Smith killed during a red zone drill when he threw a pass across the middle right near the goal line. The pass led Smith, who was open on the play but had to slide towards the middle of the field to try and make the grab. Russian S Sergey Ivanov put a helmet-to-helmet hit on Smith to cause the incompletion and get the defense fired up.
Bucs defensive backs coach Raheem Morris gave Ivanov, whom he refers to as "Drago," a hip bump to celebrate the wicked hit on Smith.
Smith got off the ground and stared down Ivanov, but before the two players could mix it up several defenders stepped in to prevent a potential fight.
"Get out of here with that," Bucs safety Jermaine Phillips said to Smith as No. 81 walked back to the offensive huddle.
But the offense responded in the red zone session. McCown threw a wide receiver screen to Clayton, who showed some impressive acceleration after hauling in the pass for a 10-yard gain and touchdown.
Simms saw a limited amount of action, but capitalized on the opportunity by hitting Stevens on a crossing route for a 10-yard touchdown.
Griese had a fade pass thrown to the right corner of the end zone for Bryant broken up, but CB Marcus Hamilton was flagged for holding on the play.
On the next play, Griese threw a nice slant pass to Clayton, who caught the ball and worked his way into the end zone for a touchdown.
Griese's next pass hit Spurlock in the back of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown. Spurlock had gotten himself open vs. Nicholson.
Once the red zone session concluded, the Bucs took to the middle of the field for another 11-on-11 session.
Tampa Bay defensive end Gaines Adams got the defense off to a strong start by filling a running lane and tackling RB Michael Bennett for no gain.
Hovan followed Adams' lead by shedding a blocker and tackling Dunn for no gain on the next play.
On the next play, McCown dropped back to throw, but DE Kevin Carter showed impressive burst off the line and beat Trueblood around the corner to record what would have been a sack on McCown, or at the very least a quarterback pressure.
Unfortunately for Adams, he was called for being offside's a few plays later, but he clearly disagreed with the referee's call.
"What? Come on. He moved, man," Adams said suggesting that one of the offensive linemen had false started on the play.
During an 11-on-11 period, Johnson took a few snaps, but not before Roland and Denman each were called for false starts on the same play.
On the play that Johnson actually got off from under center, he executed a quarterback keeper to his right, but Brooks and CB Elbert Mack were there to make the stop. Johnson saw those two defenders quickly approaching and slid to ground with the ball tucked away, which prompted some of the defensive players to jokingly boo him.
The Bucs continued to have some success running the ball during this drill when Bennett used his speed to quickly hit a hole opened up by Penn, Sears and Buenning. Bennett gained 12 yards before crossing the end zone for a touchdown.
During the same goal line session, McCown bootlegged to his right and saw that all of his receivers were covered, which prompted to him to tuck the ball away and beat Nicholson to the end zone for a score.
Tampa Bay's offense finished practice strong on Thursday morning by having McCown throw a high pass in the back of the end zone for Stovall, who used his 6-foot-5 frame to leap up into the air, snag the ball and keep both of his feet in bounds for the 10-yard touchdown. Stovall put an explanation point on that impressive play by spiking the football in the end zone.
The Bucs are scheduled to hold a walk-thru practice in their indoor facility this afternoon, but will hold a practice in full pads again on Friday morning.
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