The Buccaneers held their second day of rookie mini-camp on Saturday afternoon at One Buc Place under cloudy skies and a cool temperature of 81 degrees. This was a great change of pace from the scorching heat of Friday’s practice and also unlike Friday, practice squad players and second-year undrafted free agents were not in participation.
The rookie hopefuls started practice with long group installation sessions after warm-ups and stretching and the offense began with the basics in regular formation. North Carolina wide receiver Jheranie Boyd was the first player to walk off the field with trainer Todd Toriscelli due to an unknown ailment during this time and was the only offensive player to leave practice on Saturday.
The offensive players then went into another stretching period before participating in group drills. Unlike the defensive players from this year’s draft class that received a lot of individual coaching throughout practice, quarterback Mike Glennon and running back Mike James primarily stayed in the same drills with the rest of their offensive teammates.
During individual drills, the wide receivers worked on footwork and learned the proper way to run each route from receivers coach John Garrett and caught passes from members of the assistant coaching staff. The rookie running backs worked on blocking and pushed sleds as the main part of their group drill.
Next up the wide receivers caught passes from Glennon and Purdue quarterback Robert Marve. Rutgers wide receiver Tim Wright stood out the most during this drill due to his huge 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame. Wright made some great catches against wide receivers acting as defensive backs in this drill and excelled at catching the ball at its highest point.
One thing that all of the receivers excelled at throughout the day was keeping the football high and tight, which is a big rule of thumb for head coach Greg Schiano and this was something that was most likely drilled into all of the offensive players during team meetings.
The quarterbacks then worked one-on-one with their position coach John McNulty while the rest of the offense participated in special teams drills. Dave Wannstedt, the team’s new special teams coordinator, was fired up during this period and brought the most energy to practice from a coaching standpoint. Wannstedt had his players run a very unique drill in which a player with a blocking bag ran down the field and then turned to get set to take a hit from another player that ran full speed into them. Texas Christian tight end Corey Fuller stood out in this drill and showed off his big size and power.
While special teams coverage drills continued on one field, the offensive linemen went one-on-one against defensive linemen on the middle practice field. The lineman that stood out the most in those drills was Fordham tackle Stephen George. George showed very good footwork and shut down almost all of the edge rushers that he faced including fifth-rounder Steven Means.
The offensive skill players then got together with defensive backs for one-on-ones. First up was USF running back Lindsay Lamar, who dropped a quick slant that was fired in to his hands by Glennon. Glennon had the same problem with his skill players throughout the day that he had his senior year at North Carolina State – dropped passes.
On another play Glennon threw a beautiful long bomb to Texas wide receiver DJ Monroe, who beat Belhaven cornerback Isiah Wiley by about five yards on the play, but Monroe let the ball slip right through his hands in the endzone.
The next time Glennon went to Lindsay Lamar, however, the third-round draft choice did not put enough velocity on the ball and under threw the USF product. Boise State cornerback Jerrell Gavins dropped an easy interception on that play from Glennon as even the defensive players failed to catch his passes, but Gavins didn’t have any trouble picking off Robert Marve a few players later.
One player that didn’t have a problem catching passes on Saturday was USF tight end Evan Landi. Landi had a very impressive day once again catching the football across the middle of the field and had the effort play of the day. On this play Landi made a great diving catch for the football, showing his great extension ability and after falling to the ground he immediately popped back up and ran down the field to gain more yards before being chased down.
The South Florida product is very happy to stay in Tampa after playing five years with the Bulls and is trying to make a name for himself with the Bucs this summer.
“I’m trying to show them versatility and my pass catching skills, blocking skills and my special teams [ability],” Landi said. “I think I did well. I just tried to pick up the plays as fast as I could and showcase my abilities.”
Bucs head coach Greg Schiano has always liked Landi from his days at Rutgers and the undrafted rookie free agent will get a real opportunity to prove himself with Tampa Bay during training camp and the preseason.
“I go way back with Evan,” Schiano said. “He came to our summer camp up there and I was always a fan of his. We played against him [at Rutgers] and he kind of did everything for [USF] and now he’s settling into one position and he’s got potential. He’s got to learn his stuff and see how he can compete with the other guys on the roster and he’s going to get a shot.”