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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the field for their morning practice at Disney's Wide World of Sports on Tuesday.
The Bucs sported shells (shorts, jerseys, shoulder pads and helmets) as they prepared for their next preseason opponent – the New England Patriots.
Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Garcia (calf), tight end Ben Troupe (ankle) and cornerback Sammy Davis practiced, but were limited to the individual periods.
Bucs defensive tackle Jovan Haye (groin) and wide receiver Joey Galloway (groin) were held out of practice this morning.
Head coach Jon Gruden attempted to break up the training camp routine by having music play during the team stretching session.
Once stretching concluded, the music was shut off and the players broke up into different parts of the two practice fields to work with their respective positions coaches.
Tampa Bay's offense had a sloppy practice, and the problems started during warm-ups, where several wide receivers dropped passes, including Michael Clayton, Chad Lucas, Ike Hilliard, Cortez Hankton and Paris Warren.
However, there were a couple of really nice catches made, too. Clayton did a great job of snagging a ball thrown well below his knees. Hankton displayed an impressive vertical jump by leaping up in the air and hauling in a pass that was overthrown by Garcia.
Although he's considered a raw receiver, rookie Dexter Jackson has shown consistent and reliable hands throughout training camp and did it again this morning. The raw part of Jackson's game is his route running. His hands have been solid thus far.
Bucs WR Maurice Stovall had a lot of passes thrown his way this morning and made the most of the opportunities by catching everything thrown his way.
Gruden was really pushing his offensive players this morning.
"Get after their [butt]. This three-deep zone coverage is so soft it's sickening," Gruden yelled to the offense during play installation drills.
The Bucs typically take it easy during the final week of training camp in terms of the tempo and physical nature of practice. Not only was it surprising to still see the players in shoulder pads this morning, the workout itself was also very physical.
The offense had mixed results against the defense during the first 9-on-9 session of the morning.
Running back Earnest Graham found an open running lane behind right guard Davin Joseph and right tackle Jeremy Trueblood.
On the next play, RB Michael Bennett was stuffed by defensive tackle Ryan Sims on an attempt up the middle. The play went for no gain.
Bennett found about 5 yards of running room on the next play before being met in the middle of the field by safety Will Allen.
Defensive end Greg White proved to be a disruptive force this morning, penetrating the offensive backfield on several occassions. On one particular play, he stopped Bennett on a run attempt on the perimeter. On the final play of the entire practice, White penetrated the offensive backfield from the left end spot to sack quarterback Luke McCown.
But Bennett found some running room on the next play, sprinting around the right side for a decent gain with solid blocks from rookie guard Jeremy Zuttah and right tackle Dennis Roland.
During the same 9-on-9 session, RB Warrick Dunn ran through a nice hole opened up by tight end John Gilmore and left guard Arron Sears. Gilmore was later called for a false start penalty.
Bucs rookie RB Clifton "Peanut" Smith broke off a nice run off the left side with the help of center Dan Buenning, who pulled on the play.
Defensive lineman Marques Douglas did a nice job of breaking into the offensive backfield and stopping Graham for a loss.
Once the 9-on-9 session concluded, the Bucs held a full-team, 11-on-11 red zone drill.
With Garcia limited to only the individual drills, Tampa Bay quarterbacks Brian Griese and McCown took the majority of the snaps, and both players were inconsistent during this drill and throughout the remainder of practice.
McCown started off strong by hitting WR Brian Clark in stride down the left seam for a 20-yard touchdown with safety Sabby Piscitelli in coverage. The first-team offensive line did a great job of picking up the blitz package on the play.
But McCown's next pass, which was a short dump off to Gilmore, was deflected by linebacker Quincy Black and intercepted by middle linebacker Matt McCoy.
After the cool down period, McCown fared well with his first two passes, completing short to Graham, who beat linebacker Barrett Ruud to the flat before getting forced out of bounds by safety Jermaine Phillips. A few plays later, Graham didn't do McCown any favors by dropping a pass from No. 12.
On his next throw, McCown hit Jackson in stride down the left sideline for a 60-yard touchdown. Jackson appeared to beat cornerback Marcus Hamilton and safety Will Allen on the play.
McCown's worst throw of the practice came during the final 11-on-11 session when he threw deep across the middle of the field with no receivers in the area. This allowed safety Jermaine Phillips to dive for the ball and intercept it.
During Phillips' interception return, linebacker Ryan Nece knocked Clark to the ground. Clark took exception to Nece's block and came over and grabbed his facemask as he got in his face. Nece grabbed his as well, but before things got too heated, Barber, Stovall and some other teammates broke up the scuffle.
Griese didn't fare much better. His pass attempt to WR Antonio Bryant was broken up by cornerback Ronde Barber. On the next play, Barber showed great awareness and closing speed by breaking on Griese's pass thrown to Clayton on a slip screen.
One of the more impressive plays from this morning's practice came during a 7-on-7 drill when Griese fired a pass down the left seam to WR Paris Warren. Barber had great coverage on the play, but Warren showed great concentration and impressive hands by hauling it in for a 35-yard gain.
After completing a slant to Graham, Griese's short dump off was off the mark and nearly intercepted by Black, who dove in an attempt to make the pass breakup.
On the next play, Griese overthrew Clark by about 5 yards down the left sideline after Clark had beaten cornerback Eugene Wilson.
During the final 11-on-11 drill of practice, Griese took the first snaps, but much of the session was dedicated to running the football.
Linebacker Derrick Brooks had a great run stuff for a loss on an attempt by Graham. Dunn followed that play up by breaking off a run for decent yardage behind Gilmore and Sears.
Griese received some help from Spurlock during this session when he threw a pass just ahead of him, but Spurlock tipped the pass back to himself with one hand and hauled it in with two.
On the next play, Griese overthrew Stovall deep down the middle of the field. Allen appeared to be in position to intercept the errant throw had he turned around to look for it, which probably explains why he hit the ground and did 10 push-ups after the play was over.
Griese continued to struggle on the next play when his short pass attempt toward the right side of the field was deflected by Black and intercepted by defensive lineman Jimmy Wilkerson.
"Unbelievable play, Quincy," Bucs linebackers coach Gus Bradley said to Black, who had a splash play-filled practice on Tuesday morning.
Griese rebounded by throwing a nice strike to WR Chad Lucas with Wilson trailing in coverage. Bennett had a critical blitz pickup on the play.
But a few plays later, Griese nearly had a pass down the left sideline for Bryant intercepted as it was severely underthrown. But Bryant bailed Griese out by coming back for the ball and hauling it in for the catch vs. Wilson, who could have easily intercepted the pass had he turned around and looked for it.
Bucs QB Chris Simms received a few reps during the 7-on-7 drill. One of his best passes came on a slant to Stovall. Rookie CB Aqib Talib had good coverage on the play, but Simms made a nice throw and Stovall made a great catch.
On the next play, Simms and Stovall were not on the same page and No. 2's pass was nearly intercepted in the flat by Russian safety Sergey Ivanov, who dove for the ball but couldn't come up with the pick.
Tampa Bay dedicated a portion of the morning practice to special teams, where kicker Matt Bryant and punter Josh Bidwell got some work in.
Bryant, who missed two of his three field goal tries in the preseason opener, missed his first field goal attempt wide right on Tuesday morning. On his next kick, Bryant drilled a 44-yarder, but he missed his next attempt, which was from 46 yards out. Although he missed two of his first three tries, Bryant finished practice strong by making his final two attempts, including a 52-yarder.
While Bidwell displayed a strong and accurate leg on punts, the returners had some trouble fielding them.
Smith overran one of Bidwell's punts near the sideline, allowing it to drop about 5 yards behind him and out of bounds when he had plenty of running room in front of him. A few reps later, Smith muffed a punt, which drew the ire of special teams coordinator Richard Bisaccia.
Bucs WR and return specialist Micheal Spurlock was also guilty of dropping a punt. The ball bounced off of his hands and out of bounds near the 30-yard line.
Jackson fielded punts cleanly, but he had a scary moment on the final punt of the session when he fielded the ball and ran up field just to be closelined by fullback Byron Storer. The hit, which didn't appear to be intentional, laid Jackson out on the turf, but he showed toughness by getting up and shaking off the hit that took place in a "non-contact" part of practice as far as the return men are concerned.
Bidwell's best punt of the practice came when he placed a 50-yard punt on the 2-yard line. The ball hit the 2-yard line and rolled back to the 4-yard line before being downed.
Although Galloway was held out of practice and Garcia was limited, both players worked with each other for about 30 minutes during the cool down and special teams parts of practice.
Garcia threw passes to Galloway as the speedy receiver ran different routes in an effort to test his injured groin. Galloway looked fairly quick, but still appears to be hesitant to go all out. It is unclear when Galloway is expected to return to practice.
The Bucs are scheduled to hold a practice this afternoon. Half of the workout is expected to be held inside the team's air-conditioned tent at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
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