Thursday’s Bucs camp practice was labeled a “mock game” due to the team running in-game scenarios for the entire practice instead of sprinkling in some position drills.
There were some end-game situations that the team went through, like defense to the side lines during last-second plays and odd punt coverage calls just to make sure they were ready for anything, but there were plenty of crucial, more normal situations that the defense ran through against the first and second team offenses
For the most part, defense had the better day.
When Bucs fans say Vernon Hargreaves’ name they often say it with some frustration in their voice due to how he’s struggled over the last two years trying to play outside corner in an off-coverage scheme.
However, starting this offseason, as early as the OTA practices, Hargreaves has been seen in more of a press coverage role, and he seems to be thriving in it. On Wednesday, he didn’t allow a single catch in practice, and on Thursday he was seen locking down wide receiver Mike Evans out of press technique.
Let’s hope defensive coordinator Mike Smith allows this trend of close, press coverage to continue.
The mock game — or mock scenarios — wasn’t too kind to the offense on Thursday, as there were more interceptions than there were touchdowns.
The first interception of the day came from safety Chris Conte. It was a slow-pace play, but that was the start of a bad trend for the offense. On the other hand, it fueled the confidence of the defense.
Even the Tandy Man, Keith Tandy, got in on the action with a takeaway in the red zone drill, which was one of a handful of takeaways and stops the defense made from inside the 20-yard line.
It wasn’t just the first team players making their mark. There were plenty of second and third string defensive backs who were showing off in the indoor facility, too.
Defense dominated the spacing during the red zone portion of practice. You like to see that, but on the other hand you remember that it’s your own team failing to find space on the offensive side, too.
The defensive backs were confident and suffocating on Thursday, and with that being the first practice with only in-game scenarios, it’s safe to say they’re one-up on the offense in camp when it comes to being Week 1 ready.