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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the practice field in full pads on Saturday. The team was without defensive end Reinard Wilson (hamstring), defensive tackles Ellis Wyms (ankle sprain) and DeVone Claybrooks (lower back), cornerbacks Ronde Barber (precaution and rest) and Ronyell Whitaker (dehydration), wide receiver Charles Lee (hamstring) offensive tackles Kenyatta Walker (knee) and Todd Steussie (knee).
Wide receivers Joey Galloway (knee) and Michael Clayton (sternum) were limited, as was quarterback Brad Johnson, who was just resting today. Guard Matt Stinchcomb strained his calf and left the practice field earlier.
NFL official Gerry Austin and his crew were in attendance to officiate Tampa Bay’s morning practice.
It is nice to see offensive lineman Jason Whittle finally shed the “Jason Brittle” nickname, remain healthy and show what he can do. We talked about him having to make the team as a guard and a backup center this year, and he seems to have entrenched himself as the No. 2 center right now. Whittle has had a good camp. Today, because of the injuries along the offensive line, Whittle was playing some guard.
Kerry Jenkins was playing at right tackle in place of Walker along with Anthony Davis now that Derrick Deese is back at left tackle. On one play, defensive end Greg Spires blew by Jenkins for a sack.
At the start of practice, the quarterbacks were working on rolling out and throwing on the run. Both Chris Simms and Brian Griese performed well and displayed good mobility and accuracy.
Then the quarterbacks worked with the tight ends making hot reads while being pressured in individual drills. When quarterbacks coach John Shoop would blitz off the corner with his hands up in the air, Johnson and Brian Griese would throw quick, short passes to the tight ends.
Chris Simms and Jason Garrett were working with the receivers on fade patterns and corner routes. Garrett hardly gets any reps at all in practice. Even with Johnson missing most of the morning session, it was Simms and Griese getting the extra reps – not Garrett.
In individual blocking drills, defensive end Simeon Rice and rookie Nate Lawrie got into a bit of a scuffle. Rice and defensive tackle Anthony McFarland were lined up against a guard, a tackle and Lawrie. When Rice shot off the line, Lawrie really popped him and then blocked him to the ground. Rice was either caught off guard or did not appreciate such a hard hit and grabbed and twisted Lawrie’s facemask before getting up. The two exchanged words and then had to be separated by teammates.
Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli was preaching to his linemen, “Get off the ball! Get off! Don’t worry about grabbing him, penetrate!”
During 9-on-7 drills, nose tackle Damien Gregory showed some nice technique and handwork against the offensive linemen.
Several running backs found daylight on offtackle plays. Charlie Garner beat linebacker Ian Gold to the corner. Later in 9-on-7 drills, Michael Pittman outraced rookie linebacker Marquise Cooper and middle linebacker Dustin Cohen to the corner and blazed down the sidelines for a touchdown.
During today’s morning session, fullback Mike Alstott received the two hardest hits since his return to practice. The first blow was dealt to linebacker Michael Brown by the A-Train. The second hit was a helmet-to-helmet collision between Alstott and cornerback Corey Ivy. The 5-foot-8, 188-pound Ivy really popped Alstott and knocked him flat on his back. While Alstott may have let his guard down a bit on the play, it was good for him to once again test his surgically-repaired neck.
“He needs to see that,” running backs coach Art Valero said. “He needs to have that done to him so that he knows that the play isn’t over and that he needs to run [Ivy] over, and kind of get back to where he was.”
After the play, Alstott took off his helmet and walked to the sidelines with a big grin on his face to talk to Valero. Valero recalled the dialogue.
“I told him to run [Ivy] over,” Valero said. “That was the last guy or he would have scored. I said that he had to finish the play. He hit it, but then once he got through the line of scrimmage and got the first down, he relaxed. We don’t do that in our group. He knows that. He’s the leader of that group. For him to put that on film isn’t good for the rest of them to see that, but for him to get lit up because he didn’t – it’s great.”
Ivy also had another violent hit earlier in practice during the team’s two-minute, hurry-up offense period. Wide receiver Danny Farmer made a catch close to the sidelines and Ivy decleated him with a shoulder and forearm shiver that drew oohs and ahhs from the standing room only crowd in attendance.
Cornerbacks Mario Edwards, Torrie Cox and Lenny Williams had impressive pass breakups. Safety Kalvin Pearson and linebacker Dustin Cohen defensed pass attempts that would have went for touchdowns.
In field goal drills, Ivy came quick off the left end and nearly blocked a Martin Gramatica field goal. Instead, Ivy accidentally took Gramatica out, which prompted punter Josh Bidwell to kiddingly get over the cornerback and start shadowboxing.
Fullback Jameel Cook appears to be elevating his game due to the great camp that Greg Comella is having. Cook had a nice block on middle linebacker Keith Burns on the perimeter during a toss play. Speaking of Burns, he has had a strong finish to the first week of practice. Burns has been very active when dropping into coverage, picking off a pass a few days ago, and getting another INT today while deflecting a couple of other passes. He also had a nice, aggressive hit on running back Jamel White.
Second-year defensive end Dewayne White continues to make big strides and is pushing for playing time. White has proven this week that he can be very active against the pass – and not just as a pass rusher. Earlier in the week he picked off a pass while dropping into coverage on a zone blitz. Yesterday, White covered Edell Shepherd 30 yards downfield to break up a pass. Today, he got into the throwing lane and deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage that was caught by Burns for the interception and returned for a touchdown.
While Ivy’s big hits were the spotlight plays on defense, the play of the day on offense came from wide receiver Bill Schroeder. Schroeder leaped in front of safety Jermaine Phillips to catch a deep pass thrown down the right sidelines. Phillips overran the play and safety Dwight Smith actually hurdled Schroeder to avoid getting his knees taken out by the rolling receiver. With Smith jumping over Schroeder to avoid getting hurt he didn’t touch him. The alert receiver quickly got up and raced 20 yards to the end zone to score a touchdown without being touched.
Smith would later redeem himself by recording an interception on a pass thrown by Griese to end the morning practice.
At the end of the morning session, Martin Gramatica, who missed a field goal during two-minute drills, had to make a 47-yard field goal to have the team’s curfew extended to midnight tonight. The kick was true and the players, who did not have an afternoon practice scheduled for today, rejoiced.
This story is intended to be read by PewterInsider subscribers only. Sharing of the PI content with non-subscribers of this service can result in cancellation of your subscription to the service and/or further actions by the publishers. Be sure to read the latest issue of Pewter Report on-line in PDF format on PewterReport.com. Buccaneers merchandise in the world. “Everybody’s talking about the offense and the defense, [special teams coach Rich] Bisaccia is talking about the “we-fense.” They get all excited when he does that. It’s an inside joke, or inside humor, I guess. “Ellis Wyms sprained his ankle. He’ll be out a couple of days it looks like. But knowing him, he might practice tomorrow. He’s going to be okay. It looks like Todd Steussie is going to be okay. We’ll list him as day-to-day right now, but we expect him to be out here quickly. Michael Clayton aggravated his sternum area. He might be day-to-day and might miss a day of work. He’s sore right now. “Today was a special, situational practice. We wanted to work on taking a safety backed up inside the 2-yard line. Strategy sometimes calls for you to do that. We worked on surprise onside kicks and some special occasions on special teams. I thought it was good.” “When you get into special teams, you always hear about a story about a player here or a player there that might not really want to be on special teams. He wants to be the linebacker or the starting receiver. We are going to use offensive and defensive players on special teams. We’re going to use 11 guys who are going to get the job done. The best 11 we can get – instead of referring it to offense and defense, we call it we-fense.