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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the practice field at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex on Tuesday morning under sunny skies and hot and humid conditions. The practice, which featured all of the players in pads for only half of the workout, lasted two hours.
Tight end Doug Zeigler (undisclosed), linebacker Jeff Gooch (shin splint), wide receiver Charles Lee (hamstring), guard Matt Stinchcomb (calf) and tackle Derrick Deese (bone spur) were held out of the morning practice.
Some Bucs receivers were a little sloppy to start the practice. With Jay Gruden throwing passes, wide receiver Marcus Knight, who had a strong mini-camp but hasn’t been anything special in training camp so far, dropped a pass in warm-ups. So did tight end Dave Moore and WR Edell Shepherd, who actually dropped another pass before the warm-up session was over.
Bucs fullback Casey Cramer was very aggressive during 9-on-7 drills. He did a nice job of lead blocking and was as physical as any player on the team. On one play, Cramer took down linebacker Michael Brown, who has had an impressive camp, in the backfield. Cramer needs to continue his aggressive blocking and show consistent hands out of the backfield to make the team. He may, however, be a player that the Bucs could sign to the practice squad, which was expanded from five to eight players this year.
While some of Cramer’s blocks were impressive, Bucs defensive end Dewayne White might have had the most explosive hit of the morning session when he penetrated the backfield and lit up running back Jamel White for a huge hit and loss.
White, who sustained a concussion on the play, laid motionless on the field for about one minute before getting on his feet and jogging off the field.
Some believe Dewayne White’s hit on Jamel White was retaliation for what happened to Pro Bowl weakside linebacker a few plays earlier. Brooks sprained his knee during 11-on-11 drills after his leg got rolled up while attempting to shed a block by Cramer.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, who has watched his fair share of fights in camp already, including tight end Nate Lawrie vs. DE Simeon Rice and Monday morning’s skirmish between FB Greg Comella and safety Dwight Smith, blew the horn after Dewayne White’s hit on Jamel White and basically told the players to keep their cool.
Speaking of hits, Bucs FB Mike Alstott, who got his surgerically-repaired neck tested a few days ago by cornerback Corey Ivy, got blasted again on Tuesday morning, this time by safety Kalvin Pearson. The good news is Alstott’s neck appears to be holding up to those hard hits just fine.
“That’s the style in which he plays and the style in which he’s going to practice,” said Gruden. “We’re excited about the return of Mike Alstott and the physical presence he brings to our team.”
The 11-one-11 session was very physical, but the Bucs offense was able to move the ball quite effectively. Moore made a nice grab in the flat and ran into the end zone for a 20-yard score.
Wide receiver Joey Galloway continued to make plays Tuesday when he get open down the sideline by outracing cornerback Ronde Barber, who was in on coverage. Galloway hauled in the fade-like pass and scored a touchdown.
Tampa Bay’s tight ends made some nice plays in the morning session. Rookie Nate Lawrie made a great catch for a score. But perhaps the most impressive play came when TE Rickey Dudley hauled in a pass with one hand and raced into the end zone for a 20-yard score.
For the second straight day, the Bucs allowed punter Josh Bidwell to practice directional kicking. He did not, however, fare as well as he did on Monday. Bidwell, who was punting from close to mid-field, had a few shanks that didn’t even make it inside the 20-yard line.
Tampa Bay held a special teams practice on Tuesday afternoon. Weather conditions remained the same, featuring sunny skies and a hot and humid atmosphere.
Bucs kicker Martin Gramatica had the opportunity to practice kickoffs. However, he didn’t kick the ball at full strength in an effort to preserve his kicking leg.
Wide receivers Edell Shepherd, Mark Jones and Frank Murphy, safeties John Howell and Scott Frost, defensive end Corey Smith, running backs Earnest Graham and Brandon Bennett and safety Will Allen were among some of the players covering kickoffs.
Punter Josh Bidwell also punted with coverage units ready to cover his kicks.
Tight end Dave Moore is Tampa Bay’s primary long snapper. The Bucs had him practice snapping to Bidwell from the team’s own goal line. One of Moore’s snaps sailed at least five feet over Bidwell’s head, but it was apparently intended to go out of bounds in order to result in a safety.
Jones has been fielding a lot of punts and kickoffs and did the same during Tuesday afternoon’s practice. He may or may not secure a roster spot this season, but the Bucs will likely give Jones, who fields the ball very cleanly and has the speed to do some damage, every opportunity to earn a job as a return specialist this preseason.
The Bucs ended the special teams session by having Gramatica practice onside kickoff attempts. Rookie linebacker Marquis Cooper made an impressive recovery on one of Gramatica’s onside attempts.
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