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The Buccaneers held their morning practice at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in hot and humid conditions on Tuesday. The players were in shells: helmets, shoulder pads, jerseys and shorts.
Held out of practice were wide receiver Joey Galloway (groin), quarterback Jeff Garcia (calf), fullback B.J. Askew (ankle), defensive tackle Jovan Haye (groin), cornerback Sammy Davis (hip), and wide receiver Antonio Bryant. Bryant appeared to be missing practice due to some knee swelling, which was the same reason that he missed practice a few days ago. Once again, Bryant had on a neoprene sleeve around his knee.
As the players were warming up, wide receiver Michael Clayton came over to talk to the crowd.
"Hey, guys. Can I get your help with something?" asked Clayton. "Today is [wide receiver] Dexter Jackson's birthday, so when I put my arm up and give you the signal could you sing happy birthday to him?"
The crowd cheered in agreement. As the players broke into their stretching lines, Jackson and Clayton were on the sideline closest to the stands and Clayton gave the signal. The players laughed and gave the rookie receiver some ribbing.
Team captains Davin Joseph, Chris Hovan, Derrick Brooks, and Ronde Barber led the team in stretching.
After a few sessions of fundamentals and installation, the players came together for 11-on-11 scrimmaging. Early on, the emphasis was on the run game.
Running back Earnest Graham got the first reps. On one of his first runs, the play was blown up by rookie defensive tackle Dre' Moore. Moore still is getting acclimated to the heat and life in the NFL, but he stood out by making several key stops against the run this morning. His first run stuff came in a 9-on-9 session with rookie RB Clifton Smith as the ball carrier. Moore beat guard Davin Joseph on that play.
Joseph and his partner on the right side of the offensive line, Jeremy Trueblood, had a good day of pass blocking as well. Defensive end Greg White and defensive tackle Ryan Sims tried some stunts, but the guard and tackle were able to pick up what was thrown at them.
Joseph came back on the next play and pushed Moore aside and opened a big hole for Graham. The starting running back had another big run, this time off of the left side. Graham turned the corner and raced up field. He got a good block on the second level from offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah.
The Buccaneers also had some success blocking down field on a nice reverse to Jackson. He had a sizable gain of over 10 yards before the first defender, linebacker Matt McCoy, got to him.
Tampa Bay's defense spent part of the practice on the far field this morning. Bucs linebackers coach Gus Bradley worked on play install with his players. Defensive line coach Todd Wash had his players running through the dummy drills. Defensive backs coach Raheem Morris worked with the safeties and cornerbacks as well.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden spent a significant amount of time working with the wide receivers. The wide receivers made some impressive catches during warm-ups this morning. Receivers Cortez Hankton and Micheal Spurlock each made one-handed grabs.
Another player that proved to have reliable hands this morning was rookie RB Clifton Smith, who made a nice grab down the right sideline on a impressive throw from quarterback Brian Griese.
Bucs rookie QB Josh Johnson threw a bouncing pass into the flat for WR Maurice Stovall, who couldn't get his hands on the ball, which led to an incomplete pass.
Quarterback Luke McCown took the starters reps on the majority of the drills and scrimmages and fared quite well. After Gruden highlighted on Monday the need for McCown to scramble and use his athletic ability to help make plays, the young quarterback obliged on Tuesday. McCown scrambled and took off downfield and had some success in doing both.
During warm-ups, McCown displayed an accurate arm, hitting Hankton on a deep pass thrown down the left seam and Clayton across the middle of the field on a crossing pattern.
During a 9-on-9 period, McCown sold a play-action pass and rolled to his right, finding tight end Jerramy Stevens on a crossing route for a big gain. Linebacker Derrick Brooks trailed on the play.
McCown found himself under some heavy duress throughout the practice. During an 11-on-11 session, Bucs defensive end Greg White sacked McCown twice in a row by getting around tackle Anthony Davis on consecutive plays. During the final 11-on-11 session of practice, Bucs defensive end Gaiens Adams raced around the corner to beat tackle Donald Penn and sacked McCown.
But McCown put his scrambling ability and athleticism to use. A few plays later, McCown was under pressure again, but this time he pulled the ball down and scrambled up the middle for a 15-yard gain. He showcased his running skills a few more times throughout the practice.
On one play in 11-on-11's, McCown scrambled to his right and threw a bullet down field to tight end Ben Troupe, who made a sliding catch. McCown also went deep downfield to wide receiver Chad Lucas, who was racing down the right sideline and McCown threw a great pass. The bomb was on the money and hit Lucas in stride in the hands. Lucas dropped the pass, but safety Tanard Jackson also helped to force the incompletion by scrapping with Lucas when the ball hit his hands.
McCown threw to wide receiver Maurice Stovall, who sat down in a soft spot in the zone. However, the normally sure-handed Stovall dropped the pass.
McCown threw to wide receiver Micheal Spurlock, who ran an out and caught the ball and got both feet in bounds before going out of bounds. Cornerback Elbert Mack, who was unhappy with giving up the completion, had guarded Spurlock. One of McCown's interceptions on Monday came on a pass in the flat.
McCown showed his arm strength on a completion to Lucas. Lucas sat down about 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. The targets downfield were covered and there were defenders close to Lucas, but McCown fired a fastball into Lucas that the receiver corralled, but was quickly met by linebacker Quincy Black.
During an 11-on-11 session, McCown threw a perfect pass down the middle of the field to Stevens. McCown placed the ball right over Stevens' shoulder and the play would have gone for a 50-yard touchdown since linebacker Ryan Nece trailed in coverage.
Later in practice during a 7-on-7 drill, McCown threw a perfect strike down the left seam to WR Ike Hilliard, who had beaten rookie cornerback Aqib Talib. McCown's pump fake played an integral role in helping Hilliard get open on the play.
During the same drill, McCown did a great job of looking off McCoy, which allowed Graham to get open on a drag route. Not only did he haul in the pass, but Graham also had a lot of running room.
Griese followed McCown. Griese had mostly an uneventful day. He threw an out pass to Hilliard, who was abruptly forced out of bounds by Barber. Griese went back to Hilliard, who sat down in zone coverage in the middle of the field and hauled the ball in.
Griese also threw downfield and very nearly threw an interception. Middle lineabcker Barrett Ruud stretched out for the ball, but dropped the pass. Ruud definitely felt he should have had it as he pounded the ground and then did some pushups.
Griese made a completion to Stevens in the flat. Stevens then juked cornerback Marcus Hamilton and ran up field for another 10 yards before defenders closed on him. Griese was accurate early this morning. He threw a nice pass to Clayton on a square out. Clayton had separated from safety Will Allen on the play and had plenty of running room after he caught the ball.
Griese did not get help from WR Paris Warren, who dropped a perfectly thrown pass on a slant route during an 11-on-11 drill.
Defensive end Kevin Carter pressured Griese during a full team drill. Carter didn't record the sack, but he did force Griese to throw the ball away. The pass was nearly picked off by linebacker Adam Hayward.
During a 7-on-7 session, Griese hooked up with Hankton on a crossing pattern. Nece trailed in coverage on the play.
Griese received some help from rookie WR Dexter Jackson during the 7-on-7 session when he did a great job of coming back for a ball thrown by Griese to haul it in vs. cornerback Eugene Wilson, who was in position to defend and possibly intercept the pass.
Tampa Bay QB Chris Simms received a limited amount of reps during the morning workout. During a 7-on-7 drill, Simms threw an errant pass to WR Brian Clark. Cornerback Phillip Buchanon did a great job of breaking on the ball and getting his hands on it, but he couldn't haul it in for the interception. Dropped interceptions plagued Buchanon last year, and they've continued to haunt him in training camp this year.
Simms got a few reps as the third quarterback in the practice. Simms completed a nice play action pass to tight end John Gilmore. Gilmore had run a cross and had a step on linebacker Ryan Nece. Safety Jermaine Phillips swooped in to make a potential tackle and limit Gilmore from turning it into a big gain.
The tight ends weren't perfect, though. Gilmore was flagged for holding a perimeter run by RB Warrick Dunn during a 9-on-9 drill.
During the special teams portion of practice, the Bucs worked on extra point attempts, units coordinating to get onto the field, and on punts. Jackson, wide receiver Micheal Spurlock, and running back Clifton Smith fielded punts. Punter Josh Bidwell got off some booming kicks and also practiced placing kicks inside the 20-yard line. During part of this session, McCown and Gruden were talking, and Gruden was giving McCown some points and doing some drop backs for his quarterback.
Jackson took some reps as a kickoff returner at the end of Tuesday morning's practice. Pewter Report has learned that one of the reasons why Jackson has received a limited number of reps at both wide receiver and kick and punt return is because the hamstring injury he suffered in the rookie mini-camp in May has not fully healed. Sources tell Pewter Report that Jackson's hamstring is about 90 percent healthy.
Bucs kicker Matt Bryant remained accurate. He practiced extra point and field goal attempts this morning, and was perfect on all fronts.
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