The second practice of the Buccaneers mandatory mini-camp was held at One Buccaneer Place on Tuesday afternoon. After a two-hour morning practice, the Bucs had a shortened afternoon workout under partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the mid- to upper-80's. After warming up and stretching the players split off to their position groups.
Wide receiver Joey Galloway was not practicing in the afternoon, and wide receiver Antonio Bryant was also sitting out. Although Bryant had a brace on his right knee, it is possible that Bryant is one of the players that will practice once per day, just as Galloway has done in previous years.
Running backs Cory Boyd (knee), left tackle Luke Petitgout (knee) and RB Cadillac Williams (knee) were also held out of Tuesday afternoon's workout due to their respective injuries. Quarterback Chris Simms also failed to show up for the afternoon practice. Bucs G.M. Bruce Allen told the media on Tuesday afternoon that Simms' absence was not excused.
Bucs defensive backs coach Raheem Morris spent a significant amount of time at the beginning of practice working with his players on breaking on passes and picking them off. He had some help from former Bucs safety Scott Frost, who was a standout quarterback at Nebraska before moving to safety in the NFL.
Frost , who played for the Bucs in 2004, currently works as a co-defensive coordinator for the University of Northern Iowa, threw passes to the defensive backs.
A few of the DBs had trouble hauling in his catchable passes, including Jonathan Hefney, Phillip Buchanon and safety Will Allen. Hefney dropped two interceptions during the drill. First-round pick Aqib Talib and safety Sabby Piscitelli were two of several players to stand out in this drill in terms of their ability to break on the ball and intercept it.
The quarterbacks had a changeup in their rotation in the afternoon. After starter Jeff Garcia took his reps, QB Brian Griese went second. In the past few practices that the media has been allowed to watch, QB Luke McCown followed Garcia. With the second practice of the day, the Bucs decided to give some extra reps to rookie quarterback Josh Johnson. Garcia did not take reps in the team's second 11-on-11 session of the afternoon practice.
While Garcia didn't participate in all parts of the practice he looked pretty sharp in his passes. After throwing a nice out pass to tight end Jerramy Stevens, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden yelled to the pair.
"Nice Jerramy, good job Jeff," said Gruden.
Garcia has developed a nice chemistry with wide receiver Maurice Stovall. Through both of today's practices, Stovall made a number of nice plays, especially against zone coverage. Garcia hit Stovall after he got himself open against cornerback Eugene Wilson. They hooked up again, this time completing a pass after CB Sammy Davis came up short in a dive to break up the pass. Stovall illustrated some good footwork on comeback routes to get open, and with his size he presents a great target for quarterbacks.
Garcia went on to throw a pass downfield to wide receiver Dexter Jackson, who made a nice catch in traffic. On a pass that safety Tanard Jackson almost made a great interception on, Garcia completed the ball to WR Michael Clayton. Garcia threaded a pass through traffic where fullback B.J. Askew made a nice grab and continued downfield. Askew also showed good power in hitting his blocks on the blocking pad.
"Hit, slide, good," yelled running backs coach Rich Bisaccia to Askew.
On another occasion Askew and running back Earnest Graham did not seem to be on the same page during an offensive installation session. Both players were running downfield side-by-side.
"Hey Beavis and Butthead," yelled head coach Jon Gruden.
Last year's starting backfield combination met with Gruden to get on the same page.
Linebackers Barrett Ruud and Derrick Brooks stood out in the morning, but in the afternoon it was the strongside linebackers' turn. Cato June had a good practice and did a good job stuffing the run. June had consecutive plays where he stopped runs for minimal gains or no gain at all.
"Oh yeah, Cato! I see you stacking it," shouted linebackers coach Gus Bradley.
June's backup, Quincy Black, got pressure blitzing on one play and on the next play linebacker Teddy Lehman got pressure with blitz up the middle. Black made a great read and react play. In coverage, he read Griese and was able to tip a pass up into the air. Clayton reached for it, but the ball was too far behind him, which allowed safety Will Allen to notch the interception. With Garcia sitting out of the last team scrimmage, Griese started out the session at quarterback.
Griese made a number of completions in that session. He hooked up with WR Paris Warren against Wilson. He also went downfield to fullback Byron Storer. who was being chased by S Jonathan Hefney. Griese also went downfield to receiver Michael Spurlock, who was closely guarded by first-round pick Aqib Talib.
Talib displayed his speed in a matchup WR Dexter Jackson. On a deep slant, Talib stayed with Jackson step-for-step and forced the throw elsewhere. Talib later dove to break up a completion to Spurlock on a pass from McCown, but he was unsuccessful.
McCown had another good practice and showcased some of the same skills he displayed in the morning workout. His physical talents are evident, but in the practices lately McCown has really developed some mental moves to defeat a defense. In the morning session, McCown used his look-off move on defenders to get them to go one direction and then get a receiver open elsewhere. The look-off move has been on display for past few weeks with McCown. Tuesday afternoon, McCown used some pump fakes to complete passes.
He used one of his pump fakes to get a ball downfield to Warren. On another play, he put great touch on a ball over leaping LB Ryan Nece to get a completion to Stevens. McCown also had chemistry with Stovall and connected with him for a few passes. On a completion similar to the one to Stevens, McCown lofted a ball over CB Elbert Mack into Clayton's hands. Safety Sabby Piscitelli was coming from the top and would've been there for a tackle in a full contact practice.
Following McCown in reps was rookie QB Josh Johnson. Tuesday was the first day that the media has seen Johnson get practice reps with the team. He received some in the morning, but got more opportunities in the afternoon with Garcia getting some rest. Johnson was inaccurate on a number of throws in the afternoon session. Johnson seemed much more accurate in the 7-on-7 session opposed to the 11-on-11 drill.
In 7-on-7, Johnson completed passes to Clayton and WR Cortez Hankton. The pass to Clayton was a bit late coming in, but No. 80 held on as Nece came in to try and break the pass up. Then in 11-on-11, Johnson missed some wide-open targets, one of them being TE Keith Heinrich and the other being TE Daniel Fells. Johnson couldn't complete a pass to an open Spurlock either. Although Johnson completed
Johnson, who completed 68 percent of his career passes as a three-year starter at San Diego, struggled completing passes downfield, but was accurate in the short passes.
Although he was inaccurate and threw his several errant passes, one can see why Johnson only threw 15 interceptions at San Diego. Several of Tampa Bay's defensive backs were dangerously close to picking off some of Johnson's throws, but they were just out of their reach on several occasions. It's probably not a stretch to say that Johnson has a knack for avoiding interceptions, evidenced by his one pick in his senior year. He definitely has a long way to go, though.
As the practice was drawing near, the second workout of the day began wearing on some players due to the heat and humidity. Gruden knows how hot it will be when the Bucs report for training camp near Orlando in July, so he didn't have much sympathy for them on Tuesday afternoon.
"Get your hands off your knees," yelled Gruden.
The final session of practice saw the Buccaneers doing a walk-thru of plays and coverages with their helmets off. This session was intended to make sure the players were assignment sound on the play calls. Tuesday afternoon's practice was shorter than this morning's, evidenced by the fact that the Bucs only conducted seven drills compared to their usual amount of 12.
The Buccaneers will have their next mini-camp practice on Wednesday morning at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay will hold its final mandatory mini-camp practice at One Buccaneer Place on Thursday morning.
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